The Genesis of PLS

Health Monitoring has a strong presence in the state of New Jersey—providing syndromic surveillance via the EpiCenter system. We’ve also worked on a number of event-specific projects in the state, including syndromic surveillance for the Super Bowl and during/after the devastating impacts of Hurricane Sandy

Those experiences led the Northern New Jersey Urban Area Security Initiative to ask Health Monitoring for another service, following a tragic school bus crash in 2018. The accident, which occurred on a major highway, involved one of many buses taking middle school students to a field trip. The bus that crashed contained 46 passengers. Calls began pouring into 911 and emergency management lines as parents attempted to locate their children.

At the crash scene, drivers pulled over to assist. Calls began to come into EMS services, allowing help to arrive within minutes. Despite the best efforts of all involved, two people passed away as a result of the accident. The injured required differing levels of care, requiring transport to many local hospitals.

As news spread of the accident, worried parents began calling the school and hospitals for any information that was available. In the chaos of the situation, there were more questions than answers, leaving many frustrated and frightened.

Following the incident, the Northern New Jersey Urban Area Security Initiative recognized the need for a centralized information source to connect families and others to valuable, accurate information. Health Monitoring was tasked with developing a service that could meet these needs. The project was the first step toward our work to develop a Patient Locator Service or PLS.

As we continue to build the Health Monitoring PLS system, we recognize that it will be an important connection to patient information—during crisis situations, ongoing emergencies, and even planned events. PLS will serve as a central point of contact for all information about an incident, eliminating the need for calls to EMS, hospitals, or fire departments. It will also provide quick reassurance to those making inquiries.

Learn more about Health Monitoring’s Patient Locator Service (PLS) and how it could benefit you by contacting John Maletta, vice president of sales and service, 412.231.2020, ext. x115 john.maletta@hmsinc.com.

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