Information technology, general care  

GPS-based disaster victim tracking and tracing system demonstrated in Germany

22 October 2006

Geneva, Switzerland. A new system designed to simplify the registration and identification of casualties affected in a disaster situation was demonstrated in Landstuhl in Germany.

The solution was designed as a tri-national approach by a consortium of Prof. Luc Beaucourt (University Hospital Antwerp, Belgium ), Dr. Martin von Bergh (Von Bergh Global Medical Consulting, Germany), Dr. Luc Taal (University Medical Centre Utrecht, The Netherlands) and co-developed with Cisco Systems, AeroScout and Intermec. CIT Solutions and Orion Health also participated  in the demonstration.

The disaster drill, simulating a bomb attack on a bus with 20 casualties, was organised by Dr. Martin von Bergh and took place at the Landstuhl Fire Department near Kaiserslautern in Germany. The invited audience at the demonstration included officials from the German Ministry of Internal Affairs, local government, federal and state police and fire departments, and regional healthcare providers.

The solution demonstrated in Germany uses the Global Positioning System (GPS) to continuously determine the patients’ position. At the disaster site, patients will be provided with casualty cards which will be equipped with GPS micro trackers with a GSM/GPRS transmitting unit. Once activated, this device transmits the exact position to the central ViTTS database in real time.

The system allows for the rapid exchange and automatic processing of data collected by emergency workers at the scene of a disaster. The critical information is collected in real time using Cisco's mobile and wireless network technology, and stored and made available to the emergency workers via a web-based portal, thus eliminating the loss of precious time and patient data.

The crisis management team can consult the personal information contained in the database remotely from the crisis centre and immediately implement the required measures. Hospitals and other crisis support centres also have access to the medical information stored in the database, thus allowing them to prepare for the arrival and subsequent treatment of the disaster victims.

Two weeks earlier, a Belgian version of the system was showcased at the University Hospital in Antwerp by Prof. Dr. Luc Beaucourt (see

“Recent events around the world have shown the need for a system that supports the way that authorities respond in disaster situations, particularly in the tracking and identification of victims,” said Mark Capill, European Regional Director of Orion Health. “This system has been demonstrated in two European countries inside a month, indicating that there is considerable interest in finding improved solutions to support the work of first responders and state agencies when dealing with mass casualties.”

The tri-national Consortium and Cisco Systems developed the Victim Tracking and Tracing System in close co-operation with other technology providers. CITS and Orion Health worked together to develop the messaging and web portal infrastructure used in the solution. AeroScout provides the active WiFi tags, Intermec the system's wireless RFID reader. The core of the Victim Tracking and Tracing System is the Cisco 3200 Series Wireless and Mobile Router, also called the Mobile Access Router (MAR). 

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