DFW Hospitals Armed with New Emergency Tool

North Texas hospitals can now respond better in the event of a major emergency involving mass casualties and injuries thanks to a computer system that helps coordinate their efforts.

The Methodist Richardson Medical Center ran a drill Thursday to make sure they're prepared.

Using the system, called LiveProcess, they staged a mock situation in which a gunman had entered the emergency room. The hospital went "code silver" and evacuated the ER. Hospital leaders gathered in the command center to call police and radio security to lock the doors.

It was just a drill but a very real situation all North Texas hospitals are preparing for to avoid chaos during a wide-scale emergency.

"Communication is usually the very first thing to go down. People get confused. They don't remember who they should call and how to access things," said Ken Hutchenrider, Methodist Richardson president.

To help solve the problem, DFW hospitals now use LiveProcess to communicate with everyone involved so emergency responders know where to send injured people.

"No one hospital, thanks to this unified communication, would be overloaded with patients," said Hutchenrider. "There's not that confusion. There's not that concern that we're going to have disjointed efforts."

Instead, hospitals can be more organized and respond to disasters faster. Wherever they are, hospital staff get real-time alerts on their cell phone in the form of emails, text messages, and voice mail messages, so they can respond to the emergency.

"At the end of the day, communication equals lives saved. Or better communication equals lives saved," said Thomas Mack, spokesperson for LiveProcess.

LiveProcess was developed in the wake of Sept. 11 and the SARS outbreak. North Texas hospitals became some of the first to adopt it and they tested it during this winter's ice and snow storms.

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