The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently provided details on the Emergency Responder Health Monitoring and Surveillance (ERHMS) system and how it protects emergency response teams in the case of a crisis.
In a blog post on the FirstResponder.gov website, NIOSH identified the goals it set out to reach while creating the system with the U.S. National Response Team. Those goals included: the ability to identify harmful substances and their effect on the body, the ability to prevent or minimize risks to physical and psychological health, ensuring response consistency, including effective protective measures, and the ability to identify responders in need of medical referral or in certain cases long-term health surveillance programs.
The system is carried out in three phases — before, during and after deployment.
During the pre-deployment stage, all emergency personnel are accounted for and provide evidence that they have the proper credentials.
While deployed, the process focuses on the real-time rosters of emergency personnel and additions to that roster in the case of an event exceeding initial response team capabilities. Personal protective equipment is traditionally distributed during specialized training or when the emergency workers arrive at the scene.
Once the deployment ends, emergency personnel are evaluated for possible harm and can present information on such topics as contamination or infection from harmful agents or working conditions, and stress levels, as well as how that impacts protocol and management.