October 2, 2012

LifeFlight rolls out mobile emergency command center

by Jerry Jones

Middle Tennessee emergency crews have a new tool available for them to help manage large scale events and disasters.

A mobile emergency command and communications bus is now available from Vanderbilt LifeFlight, free of charge, to any hospital or emergency agency to help with interagency coordination and communications.

Vanderbilt LifeFlight secured the bus from the Vanderbilt University Police Department, and after extensive renovations is ready to make the bus available to the Middle Tennessee emergency community.

“Vanderbilt LifeFlight has always operated as a community asset and we’re pleased to be able to offer this additional asset back to Middle Tennessee,” said Lis Henley, interim program director for Vanderbilt LifeFlight. “Good communications and interagency operations serve as the backbone of any emergency response system for large events and disasters.”

The bus will also serve as an asset for the State of Tennessee, division of EMS, Regional Medical Center Communications (RMCC) Region 5, which is housed at Vanderbilt LifeFlight. The other seven RMCC’s are located in Johnson City, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Cookeville, Columbia, Jackson and Memphis. The RMCC is a state-designated communications entity with a regional mission and focus that coordinates hospitals, ambulance services and other medical resources, in real time, to optimize emergency patient care in situations where local governments and health care providers request assistance. The RMCC’s coordinate a multi-county system comprised of all hospitals, ambulance services, dispatch centers and related entities that functions as an interactive emergency health care network.

“We are excited to be able to offer this state-of-the-art communications tool for better coordination and communications during large events and disasters,” said Jeff Gray, B.S., EMT-P, emergency communications manager for Vanderbilt LifeFlight and director of the Region 5 RMCC.

“The mobile emergency command and communications bus will allow us to duplicate the communications capability of the current RMCC and move those resources around to meet the needs of the community.”

The bus is equipped with a two-position dispatch area and a three-position work/office area.  All radios have been programmed to meet interoperability requirements as part of Tennessee’s statewide interoperability plan. The bus has two HD television receivers, VHF, UHF and 800 Mhz radio capability, as well as amateur radios that include HF, VHF, UHF, and WinLink.

Vanderbilt LifeFlight is the only non-profit air medical provider in Middle Tennessee. In addition to helicopter and airplane ambulance response, LifeFlight also provides emergency medical response for special events through its Event Medicine division and ground EMS.

Emergency agencies may request the bus for disasters and emergencies by calling LifeFlight’s emergency communications center at (800) 288-8111. For non-emergency and scheduled large events, requests should be made online at www.vulifeflight.com .