Researchers develop apps for disaster planning, flu forecasting

The National Center for the Study of Preparedness & Catastrophic Event Response, also known as PACER, recently announced the development of a new suite of applications for disaster planning and flu forecasting.

Scientists with PACER, which is a part of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, developed the suite of applications for emergency departments, first responder organizations, hospitals and disaster planners. The apps are free and accessible after registering and setting up an account through the PACER app suite website.

EMCAPS 2.0 is a new version of the EMCAPS disaster planning tool that lets users estimate casualties from 11 different disasters identified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. EMCAPS is an acronym for Electronic Mass Casualty Assessment and Planning Scenarios.

Surge is a forecasting tool meant to help hospital emergency departments, intensive care units and other healthcare providers to prepare for and manage patient surge after unexpected disasters.

FluCast is a forecasting systems designed to help infectious disease experts, hospital emergency departments and other providers to estimate the number of flu patients they are likely to see in a given week.

PACER is one of 12 Homeland Security Centers for Excellence. The facilities are authorized by Congress and chosen by the Homeland Security Science & Technology Directorate through a competitive selection process. PACER's mission is to improve U.S. preparedness and its ability to respond to disasters through rigorous scientific research on response capabilities, surge capacity and public health preparedness strategies.