Topic Collection Cover Page

Patient Movement and Tracking
Topic Collection
November 3, 2022

Topic Collection: Patient Movement and Tracking

 

During a mass casualty incident or hospital evacuation, local emergency responders will be faced with the challenge of identifying, categorizing, and tracking large numbers of patients. As the scale of the incident increases, so does the need for expanded assistance—from the local, state, regional, and federal levels, including health care coalitions and other health systems. Organizing transport resources and matching appropriate patients to available transportation can be challenging. The COVID-19 pandemic spurred innovations in patient load balancing that have application to managing patient movement during other patient surges and disasters requiring distribution of patients with specialty care needs (e.g., pediatric, burn). Medical Operations Coordination Centers (MOCC) is a general term for these transfer / load management hubs.

Patient tracking is challenging in all disasters and takes a coordinated effort with all involved to implement a system that works in specific jurisdictions.

Patients known or suspected to be infected with special pathogens require additional patient movement considerations and a National Special Pathogen System has been established to guide clinical and logistical considerations.

This Topic Collection includes resources on patient movement from area healthcare facilities and tracking that can help emergency planners and responders learn more about various levels of assistance available, how to request it, how it is activated, and lessons learned from recent incidents.

This Topic Collection was updated in November 2022. It does not include resources specific to transport to the initial receiving hospital; those can be found in the ASPR TRACIE Pre-Hospital Topic Collection. Pre-hospital triage methods can also be important when not enough transportation resources are available from the scene; access the Pre-Hospital Mass Casualty Triage and Trauma Care Topic Collection for more information. Patient movement is also distinct from hospital evacuation, but important overlapping concerns and coordination issues exist. The Healthcare Facility Evacuation/Sheltering Topic Collection may be a valuable complementary resource.

Each resource in this Topic Collection is placed into one or more of the following categories (click on the category name to be taken directly to that set of resources). Resources marked with an asterisk (*) appear in more than one category.

 

Must Reads


ASPR TRACIE. (2016). Federal Patient Movement: NDMS Definitive Care Program Fact Sheet. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.
This factsheet provides an overview of federal patient movement (the relocation or evacuation of patients from a disaster site to unaffected areas of the nation by federal agencies). It also explains the services covered and how coverage will be coordinated and includes links to helpful resources.
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After Hurricane Irma struck the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), many patients were evacuated to Puerto Rico (PR) to ensure continuity of care. Once Hurricane Maria ravaged PR, however, many USVI residents were evacuated a second time, including renal dialysis patients. This article highlights lessons learned from the evacuation of these patients from a federal patient movement perspective.
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Hopper, K., Hrdina, C., and Case, C. (2016). Patient Movement Following a Radiological Mass Casualty Incident.
The speakers in this webinar discuss the effects of a nuclear detonation on infrastructure, human beings, and medical resources. They then explain field evacuation of three groups (those with combined injuries, radiation exposure, and limited injuries) to four types of healthcare facilities (medical centers, assembly centers, evacuation centers, and centers set up for “national care” purposes). The Radiation Injury Treatment Network is discussed at the end of the webinar.
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This document summarizes three regional workshops on effective medical and public health response to large-scale disasters. Challenges, opportunities, and lessons learned related to patient tracking and evaluation are included. The first section of the document provides some important bullet points to consider when planning large-scale patient movement.
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The presenter discusses the evolution of patient movement from a federal perspective, summarizes the functional areas under ESF #8, and explains how plans can help responders manage scarce resources.
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McGovern, J. and Bogucki, S.. (2015). Mass Casualty Evacuation and Patient Movement. Emergency Medical Services: Clinical Practice and Systems Oversight, Clinical Aspects of EMS, Second Edition.
The author provides an overview of the planning and activation steps in a catastrophic scenario requiring mass evacuation that overwhelms local and state resources. The chapter has several sections: Planning Cycle (which examines planning for various types of threats); Characteristics of the Area (which encourages planners to consider demographics and structural integrity of healthcare facilities); Estimating Requirements for Medical Evacuation; Planning; Execution; Patient Evacuation from Medical Facilities; and Patient Evacuation Using the National Disaster Medical System.
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Tavakoli, N., Yarmohammadian,, M., Safdari, R., and Keyvanara, M. (2016). Health Sector Readiness for Patient Tracking in Disaster: A Literature Review on Concepts and Patterns. International Journal of Health System & Disaster Management. 4(3): 75-81.
In this literature review of 44 articles published between 2003 and 2015 that focused on patient tracking, the authors explained how the concept varies in emergency medicine and shared findings and experiences with electronic triage and online and wireless tracking systems in various disaster settings.
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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), and ASPR Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange. (2015). Joint Patient Assessment and Tracking System Overview and Fact Sheet.
This factsheet and PowerPoint presentation includes an overview of the Joint Patient Assessment and Tracking System (JPATS) to include background/history, functionality, integration into the Disaster Medical Information Suite, and common questions from state and local jurisdictions. Information about JPATS system requirements, the implementation process and cost, and types of assistance available through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response is also provided.
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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. (2015). HHS Response and Recovery Resources Compendium: Patient Movement.
This document is part of a repository of HHS products, services, and capabilities available to state, state, tribal, territorial, and local agencies before, during, and after public health and medical incidents. The Patient Movement tab includes links to relevant disaster resources available from HHS, a brief description of each resource, and information on accessing each one.
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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. (2016). NDMS Patient Movement Exercise.
This brief video highlights the benefit of holding exercises that test the National Disaster Medical System.
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Ambulance Strike Teams


California Emergency Medical Services Authority. (2010). Ambulance Strike Team (AST)/ Medical Task Force (MTF) System Manual.
This document defines Ambulance Strike Teams and their role in the state of California.
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These state-specific standard operating procedures cover issues such as the request process for ambulance strike teams (AST) (for incidents with and without notice), activation processes, resource management, logistical support, and demobilization. Supporting appendices include position descriptions, Florida Standards for an Ambulance Strike Force and Ambulance Task Force, and an equipment list for ground/air ambulance personnel.
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Goss, J., McDonough, M., and Messina, M. (2006). Ambulance Strike Teams. EMSWorld.
The authors explain the development of California’s ambulance strike teams (AST) and medical task forces. They highlighted how ASTs were able to evacuate medical facilities, support cities that were overwhelmed by response activities and address the surge of calls related to the 2003 San Bernardino fires. Sections on concepts of operations, necessary training, and lessons learned are also included.
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These state-specific standard operating guidelines cover issues such as physical requirements and core immunizations required for ambulance strike team (AST) personnel, training, and equipment and supplies. Supporting appendices include AST resource typing information, position descriptions for several types of emergency medical service providers, strike team job leader responsibilities, and relevant incident command system forms.
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Federal Patient Movement


ASPR TRACIE. (2016). Federal Patient Movement: NDMS Definitive Care Program Fact Sheet. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.
This factsheet provides an overview of federal patient movement (the relocation or evacuation of patients from a disaster site to unaffected areas of the nation by federal agencies). It also explains the services covered and how coverage will be coordinated and includes links to helpful resources.
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ASPR TRACIE. (2016). Federal Patient Movement: Overview Fact Sheet. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.
This fact sheet provides an overview of the three levels of patient movement and highlights the functions and support agencies involved in patient movement.
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ASPR TRACIE. (2016). Noble Lifesaver Patient Movement Workshop: Promising Practices and Lessons Learned. United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.
This document summarizes findings from the "Noble Lifesaver Patient Movement (PM) Workshop Series," held in 2015. These Workshops were designed to test and examine the scope of federal assistance for PM functions and the specific requirements among local, state, regional, and federal emergency support function #8 partners to execute PM.
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This fact sheet describes federal patient movement and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Service Action Team (SAT). The SAT role in patient movement is summarized and links to helpful resources are provided at the end of the fact sheet.
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After Hurricane Irma struck the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), many patients were evacuated to Puerto Rico (PR) to ensure continuity of care. Once Hurricane Maria ravaged PR, however, many USVI residents were evacuated a second time, including renal dialysis patients. This article highlights lessons learned from the evacuation of these patients from a federal patient movement perspective.
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Hopper, K. (n.d.). Federal Patient Movement. (Accessed 11/2/2022.)
This presentation highlights the various modes of patient evacuation and transport and tracking, federal coordination centers, the national ambulance contract, and factors that need to be considered when planning and activating federal patient movement. (Note: some content may be outdated, but overall, this presentation provides a robust overview of federal patient movement.)
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Kearns, R., Hubble, M., Holmes, J., et al. (2014). Disaster Planning: Transportation Resources and Considerations for Managing a Burn Disaster. (Abstract only.) Journal of Burn Care and Research. 35(1):21-32.
The authors reviewed literature on burn patient movement, with a focus on federal and military resources, capabilities, and limitations of state resources, both internal and when coordinating between states. The authors examined specialty care, ground and air ambulances, ambulance buses, and hospital-based ambulances and concluded the article by highlighting limitations and barriers to patient movement during a mass casualty burn incident.
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The presenter discusses the evolution of patient movement from a federal perspective, summarizes the functional areas under ESF #8, and explains how plans can help responders manage scarce resources.
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* McGovern, J. and Bogucki, S.. (2015). Mass Casualty Evacuation and Patient Movement. Emergency Medical Services: Clinical Practice and Systems Oversight, Clinical Aspects of EMS, Second Edition.
The author provides an overview of the planning and activation steps in a catastrophic scenario requiring mass evacuation that overwhelms local and state resources. The chapter has several sections: Planning Cycle (which examines planning for various types of threats); Characteristics of the Area (which encourages planners to consider demographics and structural integrity of healthcare facilities); Estimating Requirements for Medical Evacuation; Planning; Execution; Patient Evacuation from Medical Facilities; and Patient Evacuation Using the National Disaster Medical System.
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This document is intended to provide guidance to Federal Coordinating Center (FCC) Directors and staff, as well as local officials who will be receiving and providing care to patients evacuated through NDMS. It includes an overview of NDMS; addresses NDMS activation, operations, and training; and identifies FCC roles and responsibilities.
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  • Jenny Raspberry This link doesn't work.
    12/4/2019 3:32:08 PM
The roles of the U.S. Department of Defense as they pertain to the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) are summarized in this issuance. The document includes a list of Federal Coordinating Centers and explains how they are selected and activated.
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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), and ASPR Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange. (2015). Joint Patient Assessment and Tracking System Overview and Fact Sheet.
This factsheet and PowerPoint presentation includes an overview of the Joint Patient Assessment and Tracking System (JPATS) to include background/history, functionality, integration into the Disaster Medical Information Suite, and common questions from state and local jurisdictions. Information about JPATS system requirements, the implementation process and cost, and types of assistance available through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response is also provided.
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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. (2016). NDMS Patient Movement Exercise.
This brief video highlights the benefit of holding exercises that test the National Disaster Medical System.
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This directive states policy and responsibilities of the Veterans Health Administration related to participation in federal patient movement activities of the National Disaster Medical System and Department of Veterans Affairs-Department of Defense Contingency Hospital System.
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Guidance


This ASPR TRACIE white paper can help emergency medical system (EMS) medical directors and EMS systems planners and hospital emergency planners to key differences between “conventional” MCIs and mass violence events when: the scene is dynamic; the number of patients far exceeds usual resources; and usual triage and treatment paradigms may fail.
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Hopper, K., Hrdina, C., and Case, C. (2016). Patient Movement Following a Radiological Mass Casualty Incident.
The speakers in this webinar discuss the effects of a nuclear detonation on infrastructure, human beings, and medical resources. They then explain field evacuation of three groups (those with combined injuries, radiation exposure, and limited injuries) to four types of healthcare facilities (medical centers, assembly centers, evacuation centers, and centers set up for “national care” purposes). The Radiation Injury Treatment Network is discussed at the end of the webinar.
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This report summarizes the presentations from a 2013 workshop held by the Institute of Medicine and the National Association of County and City Health Officials focused on response requirements faced by public health and healthcare systems in response to an improvised nuclear device (IND) detonation. Chapter 9 specifically discusses the roles and work of healthcare coalitions to advance regional planning for IND incidents. The specific challenges of patient forward movement unique to a nuclear event are discussed.
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This document summarizes three regional workshops on effective medical and public health response to large-scale disasters. Challenges, opportunities, and lessons learned related to patient tracking and evaluation are included. The first section of the document provides some important bullet points to consider when planning large-scale patient movement.
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This systematic review describes the use of helicopter ambulances during major incidents to treat or transport patients, rescue personnel, and equipment in the prehospital phase of responding to an incident. The authors found that helicopters are useful in the early response to an incident, and detail challenges encountered by helicopter response to these incidents, including inclement weather, lack of landing sites, insufficient air traffic control, and errors in communication.
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* McGovern, J. and Bogucki, S.. (2015). Mass Casualty Evacuation and Patient Movement. Emergency Medical Services: Clinical Practice and Systems Oversight, Clinical Aspects of EMS, Second Edition.
The author provides an overview of the planning and activation steps in a catastrophic scenario requiring mass evacuation that overwhelms local and state resources. The chapter has several sections: Planning Cycle (which examines planning for various types of threats); Characteristics of the Area (which encourages planners to consider demographics and structural integrity of healthcare facilities); Estimating Requirements for Medical Evacuation; Planning; Execution; Patient Evacuation from Medical Facilities; and Patient Evacuation Using the National Disaster Medical System.
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The authors explain the development of recommendations for a national mass patient and evacuee movement, regulating, and tracking system that could be used during a mass casualty or evacuation incident for the purposes patient tracking and movement. The system could also be used to support decision making for those responsible for patient and evacuee movement and care, healthcare and transportation resource allocation, and incident management.
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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Response. (2012). Planning for Psychiatric Patient Movement During Emergencies and Disasters.
This tip sheet highlights basic considerations that can help public health and medical planners prepare for the movement of patients of psychiatric facilities in the event of a disaster.
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Lessons Learned


Floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey inundated 23 out of 25 southeast Texas counties covered by the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council’s (SETRAC) Regional Healthcare Preparedness Coalition (RHPC). Many hospitals and nursing homes were evacuated while others closed their submarine doors, sheltered in place, and received critical supplies via helicopter and high-water vehicles. ASPR TRACIE interviewed Lori Upton (RN, BSN, MS, CEM), Director of Regional Preparedness and Operations for SETRAC, to learn more about healthcare facility evacuation from a regional perspective.
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After Hurricane Irma struck the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), many patients were evacuated to Puerto Rico (PR) to ensure continuity of care. Once Hurricane Maria ravaged PR, however, many USVI residents were evacuated a second time, including renal dialysis patients. This article highlights lessons learned from the evacuation of these patients from a federal patient movement perspective.
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Imperial County, located in southeastern California, has a population of approximately 181,000, and shares borders with Arizona and Mexico. El Centro serves as the county seat, and the county’s economy is based primarily on agriculture. Two hospitals serve the county: El Centro Regional Medical Center and Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District. Imperial County has been a COVID-19 “hot spot,” and in May 2020, Mexicali’s hospitals reached capacity and announced that they would divert American patients to El Centro, creating a near-instant patient surge, and necessitating the movement of over 625 patients. This article details that process.
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The authors discuss patient evacuation from the U.S. Virgin Islands to San Juan, Puerto Rico or Miami, Florida after Hurricanes Irma and Maria during 2017. The authors discuss variable associated with managing these patients in a shelter for patients with certain medical needs.
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Brassfield, M. (2018). Texas Children's Mission Control Manages Real-time Patient Movement. Ashe Health Facilities Management.
This article discusses how Texas Children’s Hospital managed patient safety amid flooding, accepting NICU patients from smaller overwhelmed hospitals, outpatients requiring dialysis, and other challenges during Hurricane Harvey in 2017. It also discusses how a streamlined patient transfer process accelerated patient movement.
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The authors share how lessons learned in patient movement and other planning and response capabilities have been incorporated since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. The authors highlight the development of Mississippi MED-COM, a statewide medical communications center, to serve as a “hub for patient coordination and movement during emergency incidents.”
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Hillman, M. (2018). 2017 Hurricane Season MN-1DMAT Deployments. Metro Health Ready.
These slides describe the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) deployments in response to the 2017 hurricane season. The author comments on the NDMS mission, patient movement, and additional activities during Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.
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This document summarizes three regional workshops on effective medical and public health response to large-scale disasters. Challenges, opportunities, and lessons learned related to patient tracking and evaluation are included. The first section of the document provides some important bullet points to consider when planning large-scale patient movement.
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Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. (2011). Case Examples: 2008 Mexican Hat, Utah, Incident and 2010 Albert Pike, Arkansas, Flood. Preparedness and Response to a Rural Mass Casualty Incident: Workshop Summary.
This chapter presents two case studies of rural mass casualty incidents and includes sections on challenges and successes and lessons learned related to patient movement and tracking.
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Kearns R.D., Holmes J.H., Skarote M ., et al. (2014). Disasters; The 2010 Haitian Earthquake and the Evacuation of Burn Victims to U.S. Burn Centers. (Abstract only.) Burns. 40(6):1121-1132.
The authors describe how burn victims from the 2010 Haitian earthquake were evacuated to the southeastern U.S. as part of the international relief effort. The article highlights intricacies of burn patient movement and related logistics and briefly covers how reimbursement was handled.
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Klein, K.R., and Nagel, N.E. (2007). Mass Medical Evacuation: Hurricane Katrina and Nursing Experiences at the New Orleans Airport. (Abstract only.) Disaster Management and Response. Apr-Jun;5(2):56-61.
The authors of this article describe the experiences and solutions of nurses and other personnel from three Disaster Medical Assistance Teams assigned to the New Orleans airport responsible for patient assessment, stabilization, and evacuation operation after Hurricane Katrina.
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Lee, A. (n.d.). Concept of Forward Movement of Patients. (Accessed 10/11/2022.)
In this PowerPoint presentation, the author provides an overview of forward movement of patients and highlights lessons learned from a 2002 tabletop exercise and Hurricane Katrina.
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Lentz, T., Groizard, C., Colomes, A., et al. (2021). Collective Critical Care Ambulance: An Innovative Transportation of Critical Care Patients by Bus in COVID-19 Pandemic Response. Scandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation, and Emergency Medicine. 29(1):78.
This article discusses the use of buses in France to move patients from hospitals experiencing surge to those which had space for additional COVID-19 patients, using critical care ambulances that could transport six intensive care patients; The authors describe a test in which four intubated patients were successfully transported in critical care ambulances without incident, demonstrating that this is an effective tool for load balancing during a pandemic or other patient surge scenario.
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Lezama, N., Riddles, L., Pollan, W., and Profenna, L. (2011). Disaster Aeromedical Evacuation. (Abstract only.) Military Medicine. 176(10): 1128-1132.
The authors share lessons learned from Department of Defense patient movement during the 2008 hurricane season and the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
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The author of this article describes the repatriation and reimbursement issues faced by NDMS hospitals in Arkansas that provided care to patients who were evacuated from Louisiana during Hurricane Gustav.
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Postma, I., Weel, H., Heetveld, M., et al. (2013). Patient Distribution in a Mass Casualty Event of an Airplane Crash. Injury. 44(11):1574-1578.
This article describes the patient distribution and transportation after a 2009 airplane crash near Amsterdam. The authors analyze the patient distribution to 14 different hospitals after the crash and note that while the patient distribution protocol was not followed, patient distribution worked well as zero patients died on the way to the hospital. They recommend updating the patient distribution protocol in consultation with emergency medical services.
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Rogers, N., Guerra, F., Suchdev, P., et al. (2006). Rapid Assessment of Health Needs and Resettlement Plans Among Hurricane Katrina Evacuees-San Antonio, Texas, September 2005. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly. 55(9): 242-244.
The authors conducted surveys with post-Hurricane Katrina evacuees (residing in evacuation centers). Key findings include: 42% had a household member with a chronic medical condition, 28% percent said they had a family member with access or functional needs, and 20% shared that they knew someone in need of post-Katrina counseling services. These findings support the need for healthcare facility emergency planners to bolster their mass casualty patient movement and tracking plans.
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Sanford, C., Jui, J., Miller, H., and Jobe, K. (2007). Medical Treatment at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport after Hurricane Katrina: The Experience of Disaster Medical Assistance Teams WA-1 and OR-2. (Abstract only.) Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease. 5(4):230-5.
The authors describe the patient evacuation that occurred after Hurricane Katrina—the largest air evacuation in U.S. history. They also highlight the multiple factors that “diminished the effectiveness” of the entire operation (e.g., the length of time it took to stand up medical triage to track and move patients, understaffing, and failure to use the incident command system).
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Stuart, J. and Johnson, D. (2011). Air Force Disaster Response: Haiti Experience. (Abstract only.) Journal of Surgical Orthopaedic Advances. 20(1): 62-66.
In this article, the authors share medical response techniques and lessons learned from the U.S. Air Force patient movement effort that took place after the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
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Tavakoli, N., Yarmohammadian,, M., Safdari, R., and Keyvanara, M. (2016). Health Sector Readiness for Patient Tracking in Disaster: A Literature Review on Concepts and Patterns. International Journal of Health System & Disaster Management. 4(3): 75-81.
In this literature review of 44 articles published between 2003 and 2015 that focused on patient tracking, the authors explained how the concept varies in emergency medicine and shared findings and experiences with electronic triage and online and wireless tracking systems in various disaster settings.
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This webpage discusses gaps in the hurricane response conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). It highlights shortcomings in the response (e.g., lack of awareness specific to supporting agency capabilities and challenges associated with primary and chronic care preparedness in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico). Seven recommendations that can help HHS bolster hurricane preparedness are included in the report.
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Vora, N., Grober, A., Goodwin, B., et al. (2018). Challenges of Service Coordination for Evacuees of Hurricane Maria through the National Disaster Medical System. Journal of Emergency Management. 16(3):203-206.
This article discusses how Hurricane Maria evacuees, especially those requiring dialysis, navigated the National Disaster Medical System. Many patients requiring dialysis were not able to return home to the U.S. Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico for some time after the storm due to the limited capability of dialysis centers on the islands.
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National Ambulance Contract Resources


This pamphlet describes the services provided in the federal contract (e.g., triage, symptom surveillance and reporting, patient transport, immunizations), summarizes events in which the contract has been activated from 1992-2016, and provides contact information for the American Medical Response Office of Emergency Management.
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Federal Emergency Management Agency. (2008). Typed Resource Definitions. Emergency Medical Services Resources.
Emergency incident command staff can use the information in this document to request and receive resources through mutual aid during disasters or other emergencies.
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Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Integration Center. (n.d.). Resource Typing Library Tool. (Accessed 10/11/2022.) U.S. Department of Homeland Security .
This online catalog contains information on and links to National Incident Management Systems (NIMS) definitions, job titles/position qualifications and Position Task Books.
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U.S. Department of Homeland Security, American Medical Response, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2015). EMS Scope of Practice, Protocols, Reciprocity, and Medical Control and Direction for AMR/FEMA Federal EMS Deployments.
In a critical incident, emergency medical services responders from multiple states will likely be deployed under the National Ambulance Contract. This document includes clinical guidelines, a minimum scope of practice, and reciprocity procedures all responders must comply with regardless of their state of origin.
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Patient Load Balancing / MOCC


Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response. (n.d.). Regional Disaster Health Response System. (Accessed 10/11/2022) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
This webpage provides information on the Regional Disaster Health Response System (RDHRS), which aims to create a tiered system of disaster health care. The RDHRS is intended to increase medical surge capacity, expand access to specialty clinical care, establish best practices, and address health care preparedness challenges. Activities include coordinating medical surge, supporting large-scale patient movement, expanding telemedicine capabilities, and developing deployable specialty medical teams.
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This webinar features speakers describing Medical Operations Coordination Cells (MOCCs), lessons learned from past experiences, and how MOCCs are being used during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Imperial County, located in southeastern California, has a population of approximately 181,000, and shares borders with Arizona and Mexico. El Centro serves as the county seat, and the county’s economy is based primarily on agriculture. Two hospitals serve the county: El Centro Regional Medical Center and Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District. Imperial County has been a COVID-19 “hot spot,” and in May 2020, Mexicali’s hospitals reached capacity and announced that they would divert American patients to El Centro, creating a near-instant patient surge, and necessitating the movement of over 625 patients. This article details that process.
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Dr. Sameer S. Kadri (Head, Clinical Epidemiology Section, Tenure Track Investigator, Critical Care Medicine Dept., NIH Clinical Center) and Dr. John Hick (Hennepin Healthcare) discuss the role patient surge plays in mortality, share a surge index formula, and explain how Medical Operations Coordinating Cells can help with patient loading.
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COVID-19 patient surges have prompted healthcare facilities to be innovative in record time, updating and creating new plans as lessons were learned. In this article, ASPR TRACIE highlights how four healthcare executives from different states and settings collaborated and used data to manage patient surge statewide.
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This toolkit offers flexible and modifiable guidance, developed by the U.S. government, aimed to assist regional, state, local, tribal and territorial governments to ensure load-balancing across healthcare facilities and systems so that the highest possible level of care can be provided to each patient during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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In Spring 2022, ASPR TRACIE reviewed lessons learned from 10 states that utilized a MOCC or similar patient load-balancing structure during the COVID-19 pandemic. This document provides a summary of key findings from select MOCCs established prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic and highlights challenges, and gaps and potential opportunities/considerations for other jurisdictions establishing MOCCs in the future.
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Surges of COVID-19 cases have overwhelmed hospitals in many areas of the United States. Often, severe patient loads are concentrated on a few facilities in a region. This document describes load-balancing and the Medical Operations Coordination Cell as options for managing patient surge.
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COVID-19 Healthcare Resilience Working Group. (2020). Critical Care Load-Balancing Operational Template.
This template provides a framework for indicators and triggers that may assist states that are implementing Medical Operations Coordination Cells (MOCC) to address patient surge related to COVID-19.
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Michelson, K., Rees, C., Sarathy, J., et al. (2020). Inter-Region Transfers for Pandemic Surges. Clinical Infectious Diseases.
Using estimates of inpatient and intensive care unit COVID-19 cases, the authors modeled the effects of transferring patients from regions with bed shortfalls to the nearest region with unused beds.
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Mitchell, S., Rigler, J., and Baum, K. (2022). Regional Transfer Coordination and Hospital Load Balancing During COVID-19 Surges. JAMA Health Forum. 3(2):e215048.
The three authors describe statewide initiatives in their respective states to load balance patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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This article discusses challenges associated with transport of critically ill COVID-19 patients to manage patient surge and ensure patient loads are balanced among hospitals. The authors compared data before and during the pandemic pulled from an emergency medical services database to determine the association of patient transport with severe deterioration of a patient’s condition in patients with lower respiratory tract illness. They found that patient transport did not increase cardiac arrest, advanced airway placements, or noninvasive positive pressure ventilation, including during subsequent waves of COVID-19.
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Steward, R., Bulger, E., Epley, E., and Mitchell, S. (2020). How to Set Up a Regional Medical Operations Center to Manage the COVID-19 Pandemic. (Added 5/15/2020.) American College of Surgeons.
This article discusses the regional medical operations center concept and provides an overview of how to set up such a system for communication and coordination among multiple response partners within a region.
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Patient Tracking


Chan, T., Griswold, W., Buono, C., et al. (2011). Impact of Wireless Electronic Medical Record System on the Quality of Patient Documentation by Emergency Field Responders During a Mass-Casualty Exercise. (Abstract only.) Prehospital Disaster Medicine. 26(4):268-275.
The authors compared the efficiency and accuracy of a wireless, electronic patient documentation tool against a traditional paper-based tool during a mass casualty exercise. They found that the electronic tool performed better.
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Farcas, A., Zaidi, H., Wleklinski, N., et al. (2022). Implementing a Patient Tracking System in a Large EMS System. (Abstract only.) Prehospital Emergency Care. 26(2):305-310.
The authors share how Chicago first responder, public health, and 27 used a barcode system to track patients during a large event. While the system was successful in tracking patients from their initial contact with emergency medical services to the hospital, the authors discuss limitations and barriers encountered when implementing the system (e.g., logistical and technological barriers).
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In this article, the Brigham & Women's emergency department leaders describe how they corrected system deficiencies revealed by the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, including enhancing unidentified-patient naming conventions.
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Lenert, L., Kirsh, D., Griswold, W., et al. (2011). Design and Evaluation of a Wireless Electronic Health Records System for Field Care in Mass Casualty Settings. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. 18(6): 842–852.
Lenert et al. describe Wireless Internet Information System for Medical Response in Disasters (WIISARD), including the research that contributed to its development and testing. They found that applying the principles of electronic health records can help responders track patients in mass casualty incidents and that WIISARD could improve patient data collection and dissemination.
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Pediatric Resources


ASPR TRACIE. (2020). Pediatric Patient Movement.
This ASPR TRACIE TA response provides prehospital resources focused on pediatric medical transportation, lessons learned, and evacuation and interfacility transfer. Related Topic Collections: Pediatric, Patient Movement and Tracking, Pre-hospital, and Healthcare Facility Evacuation / Sheltering.
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Chung, S., Christoudias, C.M., Darrell, T., et al. (2012). A Novel Image-based Tool to Reunite Children With Their Families After Disasters. Academic Emergency Medicine, 19(11): 1227-1234.
This article reports the findings of tests completed to determine the accuracy of various child identification tools. One tool, “Feature-Attribute-Matching,” extracts facial features from photographs to be matched with a parent's description of their child. The other tool, "User-Feedback," allows parents to choose photographs resembling their child which then reprioritizes the images in the database.
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Emergency Nurse Association, Emergency Medical Services for Children, and Society of Trauma Nurses. (n.d.). Inter Facility Transfer Toolkit for the Pediatric Patient. (Accessed 6/6/2022.)
This toolkit can help staff develop safe and timely interfacility pediatric transfer guidelines. The resources contained within the document include best practices of hospitals from around the country.
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Texas Trauma Service Area (TSA) B. (2016). Trauma Service Area - B (BRAC): Regional Pediatric Plan.
This plan provides prehospital and hospital providers with regional standardized procedures for the treatment of pediatric patients. It addresses various issues to include: prehospital triage, helicopter activation, inter-hospital transfers, pediatric trauma triage/ transfer decision scheme, among others topics.
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Plans, Tools, and Templates


CT Department of Public Health, CT Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, and The Capitol Region Metropolitan Medical Response System, State of Connecticut. (2008). State of Connecticut: The Forward Movement of Patients Plan.
This state plan covers the medical management and transport of patients after a mass casualty incident (and before the National Disaster Medical System [NDMS] is implemented). It also includes steps for activating and implementing NDMS.
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Florida Department of Health. (2013). Patient Movement Support Standard Operating Guideline.
This guide describes how the state monitors and coordinates resources to support the care and movement of patients in areas where local capacity is exceeded and state assistance is requested.
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Hospital Incident Command System. (n.d.). Disaster Victim/Patient Tracking Form. (Accessed 10/11/2022)
Healthcare providers can use this HICS 254 form to track patients by triage tag number, demographics, area triaged to, location/time of procedure, time sent to surgery, and disposition within a healthcare facility.
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Hospital Incident Command System. (2014). Patient Tracking Manager.
This Job Action Sheet can be used to monitor the movement and document the location of patients. It also includes lists of other helpful Hospital Incident Command System forms and resources.
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Mace, S., Doyle, C., Askew, K., et al. (2018). Planning Considerations for Persons with Access and Functional Needs in a Disaster-Part 2: Evacuation and Sheltering. (Abstract only.) American Journal of Disaster Medicine. 13(3):195-206.
The authors discuss considerations for individuals with access and functional needs during a disaster as part of all-hazard preparedness. The article describes characteristics of individuals who meet this definition, legal considerations, evacuation and transportation, and general recommendations for planners considering these individuals in disaster preparedness.
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This white paper is based on the significant experience Orlando Regional Medical Center had after the Pulse Nightclub shooting and can help healthcare facility emergency planners plan for and better support non-resident/foreign patients in general and after a mass casualty/mass fatality incident.
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TN Department of Health. (2018). Tennessee Emergency Patient Tracking Plan.
While specific to the State of Tennessee, this document can help regions in other states create and adopt a patient tracking system and plan to ensure coordination of relevant healthcare information during a surge event.
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Special Pathogen Patient Movement


ASPR TRACIE. (2017). EMS Infectious Disease Playbook. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.
This playbook synthesizes multiple sources of information in a single planning document addressing the full spectrum of infectious agents to create a concise reference resource for emergency medical services (EMS) agencies developing their service policies. The information can be incorporated into agency standard operating procedures and reviewed by the EMS medical director.
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  • Bridget Kanawati Thank you for your interest in this resource. Unfortunately, funding restrictions preclude our being able to provide printed versions of our resources so all of our products, including this one, are only available electronically. ASPR TRACIE Team
    3/26/2020 2:12:41 PM
  • Frances Thorpe I agree with Tracy, is there a way to order this publication in hard copy format? The information contained in this publication highlights agency infection control policies and is a great resource to have in the department library.
    3/26/2020 12:21:36 PM
  • Tracy Miller Is there any way to order a printed and bound version?
    8/9/2018 5:16:09 PM
The speakers shared information on exercise templates (specifically tailored for regional transport) to test readiness for highly pathogenic infectious patients; explained how exercises support ASPR’s regional, tiered approach; and discussed tips from three jurisdictions on how to exercise plans.
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This document provides guidance on developing plans for interfacility air or ground transport of persons under investigation and Ebola patients.
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Department of Emergency Health Services. (n.d.). Emerging Infectious Diseases Videos for Prehospital Providers. (Accessed 10/11/2022.) University of Maryland Baltimore County.
This instructional series, comprised of nine modules, includes an introduction to infectious diseases, basic infection control concepts, considerations for personal protective equipment (including donning and doffing), personnel decontamination, patient transport, and transfer of patient care for patients with Ebola and other highly infectious diseases.
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This exercise can help participants plan for coordinated transport of a person diagnosed with Ebola virus disease, between and within states, to the Regional Ebola Treatment Center in Texas.
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Isakov, A., Miles, W., Gibbs, S., et al. (2015). Transport and Management of Patients with Confirmed or Suspected Ebola Virus Disease. Annals of Emergency Medicine. 66(3):297-305.
This article discusses the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Emory University, and the University of Nebraska’s infection control practices developed in the early 2000’s for safely transporting and treating patients who may have Ebola Virus Disease. The authors describe the processes and procedures implemented so that other medical centers can also develop the capability to care for these patients.
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Lowe, J., Jelden, K., Schenarts, P., et al. (2014). Considerations for Safe EMS Transport of Patients Infected with Ebola Virus. (Abstract only.) Prehospital Emergency Care. 19(2):179-183.
The authors discuss the coordinated response between the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit (through the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha) and Omaha Fire Department's EMS to transport patients with confirmed Ebola virus from West Africa from the airport to the high-level isolation unit. Three critical areas have been identified from their experience and are addressed in this article: ambulance preparation, appropriate selection and use of personal protective equipment, and environmental decontamination.
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Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. (2017). Regional Treatment Network for Ebola and Other Special Pathogens.
This report provides information on the regional treatment network established for the management of patients with Ebola and other special pathogens, its oversight and financing, the current state of preparedness, and planning and future considerations.
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This situation manual was developed for participants of an Ebola Virus Disease Regional Network Table Top Exercise. It includes scenarios and related questions, and several appendices, including links to helpful resources.
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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. (2018). Exercise: Tranquil Terminus.
Safely moving patients with highly infectious diseases, like Ebola, to regional treatment centers takes teamwork, preparation, skill and training. Tranquil Terminus, the largest patient movement exercise in U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ history, tested the nationwide ability to move patients with highly infectious diseases safely and securely to regional treatment centers.
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Agencies and Organizations


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response. Definitive Care.
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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response. NDMS Patient Movement Program.
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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. Joint Patient Assessment & Tracking System (JPATS).
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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, At-Risk Individuals, Behavioral Health, & Community Resilience. National Disaster Medical System.
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