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Demo Location for First-Responder Medical Surge Training Exercises

In the demo, information was provided via a RadioSTAT Station to the general public and media as if it were a real emergency.
 
Steve Johnston (2nd from right) trains first responders.
 
Incident Command, Registration & Communication Tents in Place
 
Mock school bus explosion at fictional "Sunrise Middle School" helps Ventura County Public Health test response capabilities.
 
 
 

Case Study:  Ventura County, California

Spring 2009
County-Company Collaboration Produces New Portable Station for Public Health & Safety Use
California’s Ventura County forms the northwestern portion of the greater Los Angeles area. Covering nearly 2,000 square miles of land and crisscrossed by several major highways, this growing region boasts a population of nearly 800,000 people. One third are Spanish-speaking.

Early in 2008, county emergency preparedness specialist Steve Johnston approached Information Station Specialists with a set of needs that ultimately led to finetuning a new means of reaching the public with health / safety information in a crisis. The RadioSTAT Portable Emergency Advisory Radio Station is designed to be used in conjunction with portable road signs that instruct motorists to tune to a special AM radio frequency for critical information. On average, each station covers 25-75 square miles and can be quickly moved into position in an emergency and/or operated from a fixed location at other times.

In late summer 2008, Information Station Specialists assisted Steve Johnston in debuting this new capability at “Operation Sunrise,” an annual training event the County hosts for volunteer Citizen Emergency Response Teams (CERTs), first responders and other emergency professionals to help them hone their skills.

Below, Health Official Johnston shares his perspective on the RadioSTAT experience at Ventura County.

“Ventura County Public Health/Emergency Preparedness Office has a robust Point of Dispensing (POD) plan, which we exercise frequently. 'After-action' reports from these sessions indicated much time and staff were spent repeating basic information to citizens. Also comments were made regarding the lack of bilingual signs and directions to the POD site. So we looked to technology for assistance.

“We determined that Information Station Specialists’ new RadioSTAT AM solution was what we needed to help resolve those issues. The system is portable, easy to use and allows us to create and broadcast information to incoming persons, greatly reducing the need to answer questions at the site as well as reducing the need to get the media to broadcast driving directions.

“The system is easy to set up and get on the air quickly. Our Public Health Officer is now recording scripts on fl ash drives so we have material ready to go in the event of a disaster or response to an event. The ability to broadcast ‘live’ via microphone allows us to create and broadcast timely information. Coverage is great in our county, and we are considering letting other county agencies use our RadioSTAT station for non-medical response information and events.

“By broadcasting basic information to arriving citizens we have increased our throughput during mass vaccination exercises and we have relieved our staff of repetitive questions and answers. In fact another after-action report suggested a portable AM radio receiver at check-in areas for people waiting for vaccination, which we did. This eliminated many questions. And by alternating bilingual information we covered a larger segment of our population than with just signage alone.

“We used contributions from several grants we administer to buy our RadioSTAT station.; CDC, Homeland security and pandemic flu preparedness funds were pooled. The expenditure was in compliance with preparedness requirements for each grant. I think the point is that grant recipients need to look at the deliverables and think out of the box on how to comply with them. Our work plan was approved before any purchases were made.

“I want to thank Information Station Specialists for their assistance in designing and refining this concept into something highly user friendly and important to our response plans. They provided assistance in frequency monitoring and selection, FCC license application; and they listened to our feedback on what was needed and affordable.”
Update
"Recently we got a chance to deploy our RadioSTAT station during the swine flu event. Early in the crisis, we received requests from physicians to test patients for suspected swine flu. Concerned about bringing them [inflected people] into our building to collect specimens and the need for social distancing to keep potential cases from infecting others, we decided to have citizens drive into our parking lot where specimens could be taken from them, while they remained in their cars.

"To facilitate the process, our AM radio station was deployed along with the information signs. When patients drove into our lot, they were instructed to tune their radios to 850 AM. There they received all the information on the process and how they were to interact with our [public health] staff. This eliminated personnel from talking to each driver and exposing him/herself to a potential swine flu virus."

The County also plans to use RadioSTAT for drive-through clinics and bilingual applications. In 2011, Ventura County introduced its VoiceStar Portable Radio System with Changeable Message Sign. See that case study.

Email Steve Johnston
Ventura County Public Health
Why RadioSTAT?
Learn more about RadioSTAT here.
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