Last week two separate mass casualty exercises were held in San Diego county. At UC San Diego, police, firefighters,
paramedics, SWAT teams and others were called to a simulated terrorist
attack at an academic building. There were numerous injuries, a
chemical spill and a struggle to retake the building. Near Lindbergh Field, a simulated global pandemic was overtaking San Diego and
a cyber-attack had knocked out cell phone and Internet communications
across the United States.

This week's event, called Strong Angel III, is
being hosted by San Diego State University and includes a broad range
of corporate sponsors, humanitarian and relief agencies, government
groups and universities.

The office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense
contributed $200,000 to the event, but equipment and in-kind donations,
such as computers and wireless communications technology, are expected
to be valued between $30 million and $35 million, Rasmussen said.

Companies participating in Strong Angel III
include Microsoft, Bell Canada, Cisco Systems, Sprint, Nextel and
Google, among others. Other participants include the Naval Postgraduate
School, the U.S. Department of Defense and the humanitarian group Save
the Children.

The drills focused on proving communications and information to coordinate logistics and deliver care to victims. The communications technology tested was integrated in a program called WIISARD, the Wireless Internet Information System for Medical Response in Disasters (here's a link to the WIISARD Wiki. The system was developed as a collaboration between UCSD, police, firefighters, and paramedics in San Diego.

Electronic tags on patients in the disaster
zone that recorded their vital signs and continually broadcast their
conditions to paramedics in the disaster area, a command post nearby,
and area hospitals.

Hand-held computers that paramedics used in the
field to enter information about the conditions of patients and track
medications they received.

Tablet personal computers used by supervisors
in the field who acted as links between paramedics and officials at the
command center.

A computerized command center that tracked the
locations of all patients and emergency workers, steered first
responders away from hazardous sites in the disaster zone and directed
the transport of victims to area hospitals.

I'm disappointed (but not really surprised) that medical device vendors weren't more involved with WIISARD. According to the caption of a photo accompanying the story, wireless medical devices were used and integrated into WIISARD. In the photo firefighters check the monitor on a “patient” during an exercise last Tuesday. The
monitors record vital signs and continually broadcast patients'
conditions to paramedics in the disaster area and a command post nearby.

Pictured right is a DMAT area set up in a hanger for a previous WIISARD disaster drill.