December 15, 2006

LifeFlight takes on regional disaster communications

Featured Image

Jeff Gray, director of communications for Vanderbilt LifeFlight, left, and Joe Phillips, director of the division of EMS in the State Health Department, formally designated the Vanderbilt Office of Emergency Communications as the Mid-Cumberland EMS Regional Communications Center on Tuesday.
Photo by Dana Johnson

LifeFlight takes on regional disaster communications

Vanderbilt LifeFlight's Office of Emergency Communications has been designated as the EMS Regional Communications Center (EMS RCC) for the Mid-Cumberland Region by the Tennessee Department of Health.

As part of the designation, LifeFlight will become a resource and, in the event of a disaster, the point of contact for hospitals and emergency medical services in the region, which includes Davidson County, as well as multiple other counties in Middle Tennessee.

“The idea is that one call does it all in the event of a disaster that requires mobilization of the emergency medical community,” said Jeff Gray, communications manager for LifeFlight's Office of Emergency Communications. “The state wants the localities affected by a disaster to concentrate on managing the disaster. They can call the EMS RCC and request the resources that they need.”

LifeFlight joins seven other EMS RCCs in the state, which include West Tennessee (operated by Hospital Wings); Johnson City (operated by Wings Air Rescue); Knoxville (operated by UT LifeStar); Chattanooga (operated by Erlanger LifeForce); Upper Cumberland Region (operated by Putnam County EMS); South East Region (operated by Madison County EMS) and the South Central Region (operated by Maury County EMS).

Gray said having eight EMS RCCs across the state allowed for a coordinated response between the emergency medical community and receiving hospitals.

“We're able to communicate with each other and able to share what resources are available in each region, including EMS units that can respond as well as the number and type of hospital beds available,” he said.

On Jan. 1, 2007, emergency communicators with LifeFlight will also take over as “Nashville MedCom,” a task currently performed by Nashville's 911 Emergency Communications Center.

With 11 hospitals in Davidson County, and all of them sharing a unique radio frequency for ambulance services to radio in patient reports, Nashville MedCom acts as a “traffic controller” to help keep the radio channel open and clear.