Exclusives
FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle+RSS Feed
Fire EMSEMS TodayEMS Insider

Twitter Boosts EMS Disaster Response

TwitterLogo300

Facebook and Twitter are helping to improve and speed up responses to natural disasters and health emergencies by involving members of the public, it has been claimed.

Social media allowed an unprecedented two-way exchange of information between the public and those given the task of preparing for and responding to major events such as earthquakes, floods and infection pandemics, said researchers.

"By sharing images, texting and tweeting, the public is already becoming part of a large response network, rather than remaining mere bystanders or casualties,'' said the U.S. team led by Dr Raina Merchant, an emergency medicine expert from the University of Pennsylvania.

Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, the authors say harnessing social media could help emergencies to be handled in a "quicker, more co-ordinated, effective way."

The technology allowed officials to "push'' information to the public while at the same time "pulling'' in valuable data from bystanders.

An example of social media in action was seen during the 2009 swine flu epidemic.

The US Department of Health's "Mommycast'' over YouTube and iTunes helped to keep one million viewers up to date about the disease, said the researchers.

At the same time, regional health departments drew people to vaccination sites within minutes of texting and tweeting about shot availability. Within a year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's @CDCemergency Twitter following grew 20-fold.

More recently, texted photos of oil-covered birds from community residents assisted the clean-up operation after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Future social media strategies that could aid disaster preparedness and response included the use of GPS-linked mobile phone apps, such as Foursquare and Loopt, said the researchers.

They could enable off-duty nurses or paramedics to broadcast their willingness to help in nearby emergencies.

Another idea was the creation of web-based "buddy'' systems allowing friends and neighbours to keep track of at-risk people during heat waves or cold snaps and connect them with social services and medical care.

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) news feeds and mobile apps could also help public health planners gauge the strain on healthcare systems and divert patients to the best resourced facilities during a disaster, said the authors.



RELATED ARTICLES

Drugs Stolen from Columbus Ambulances

Review finds broken and malfunctioning locks in 13 ambulances.

CDC Calls for Expanding Naloxone Use

Effort could reduce drug overdose deaths and save lives.

Rescue Efforts in Nepal

The latest on the devastating earthquake and the rescue response as the death toll climbs to over 3,700.

Virginia USAR Team Mobilizes for Nepal

Fairfax County Urban Search and Rescue team is on the way to quake site.

Global Rescuers Converge on Nepal

Teams and relief agencies respond to earthquake disaster.

Over 2,500 Killed in Nepal Quake

Landslides and aftershocks cause fear in survivors and hinder rescue efforts.

Features by Topic

JEMS Connect

CURRENT DISCUSSIONS

 
 

EMS BLOGS

Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

Featured Careers