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Supporting Teams in Mass Casualty Incident Management: Empirical and Analytic Research for Optimizing Augmentative Technology - Design Methodologies and Tools

Final Report Summary - IMTS MCIM (Supporting Teams in Mass Casualty Incident Management: Empirical and Analytic Research for Optimizing Augmentative Technology - Design Methodologies and Tools)

Effective management of multi-casualty incidents requires coordination and collaboration among various first-responder teams, such as emergency medicine services, police, firefighters, search & rescue, hazardous materials, and more. Our overall goal is design and test ways to facilitate that critical teamwork and improve the management of multi-casualty incidents. Our first objective is to explore and understand the factors that influence such collaboration and coordination, particularly those influencing information flows within and among the teams, and how they maintain effective situation picture. Following that, our second objective is scope the shared information required for teams and multiple teams of first responders to construct and maintain an effective situation picture. Finally, our third objective is design information displays to augment the situation picture and facilitate its sharing among team members and various agencies. During the first period of the project, we focused on the role of emergency medical services within the management of multi-casualty incidents. We have performed research through observations, interviews, literature reviews, analysis of simulations, and study of incident reports. That research resulted in a large amount of information which we analyzed in order to formally model the way the emergency medical services function during a multi-casualty incident, what information they require and use, the specific roles of various professionals within the organizations, and how teams functions both in the dispatch center and on-site of the incident. Based on this information and analyses, we developed a simulation-based research platform. That simulation includes modules simulating the work at the dispatch center, and the operation of paramedics on site. Through this simulation, we designed a large and shared situation information display for the dispatch team. In addition, we designed a game-like simulation for the on-site paramedics in a way that supports research into the way they maintain their situation picture, make decision, and manage the incident. Using this simulation-based research platform, we have conducted so far five experiments to assess the effectiveness of the situation display in a simulated multi-casualty incident scenario. The findings demonstrate that a display that integrates some of the critical situational information improved the understanding of the situation and supports better and correct decision-making. We expect the outcomes of the project to influence the way command and control centers first-responder teams and operators. Specifically, influence the way critical information is integrated and displayed to support understanding of the situation and decision-making.