DOT publishes free hazmat app

The new mobile Emergency Response Guidebook app gives first responders the ability to quickly search an indexed list of dangerous materials and their associated ID number, the hazards they pose and the safety precautions recommended

Updated June 2015

Recognizing that the first 30 minutes are the most important in a hazmat response, the new mobile Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG) app gives first responders the ability to quickly search an indexed list of dangerous materials and their associated ID number, the hazards they pose and the safety precautions recommended.

Updated every four years and free to all responders, the 2012 version contains new tables, such as Initial Isolation and Protective Action Distance for large spills involving six common toxic inhalation hazard gases, as well as general revisions and reorganized general information pages.

The ERG mobile application was launched by the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration with support from the National Library of Medicine.

Links to ERG 2012 software downloads for the Android are here and for the iPhone here. An instructional video for learning how to use the ERG 2012 is here.

FCC Seeks Comment on T-Band Spectrum Options

The Wireless Telecommunications and the Public Safety and Homeland Security bureaus of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced in a joint Public Notice in February that they are seeking public comment to inform their work regarding the 470–512 MHz, or T-Band, spectrum.

As Part of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, nine years after the bill is passed, the FCC is required to have reallocated the spectrum in the 470–512 MHz band used by public safety agencies, sell the band through competitive bidding and grant new licenses for use of the spectrum. Public safety entities will be given grants to cover their relocation costs from the T-Band spectrum.

As part of its next step, the bureaus request specific comments on issues they present in the Notice and invite general comment as they proceed making recommendations to the FCC as to when, how and under what circumstances the T-Band should be reallocated and the incumbent users relocated as required by law.

The comment deadline is May 13, and the bureaus expect to respond to the comments they receive by June 11. Complete details are here.

Ambulances keep temp payments one more year

The ambulance industry won the continuance of a temporary increase in Medicare payments for emergency ground and some air ambulance services when President Obama signed legislation that steered the country clear of the “fiscal cliff” in January.

The same bill granted a one-year extension (to Jan. 1, 2014) of the current Medicare bonus payments for ground ambulance providers, designed to address the chronic underpayment of service to these providers. The payments will remain at the current reimbursement rates:

  • 2 percent for transports originating in urban areas
  • 3 percent for transports originating in rural areas
  • 22.6 percent for transports originating in super-rural areas

The law also requires that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) conduct two new studies. The first, to be reported to Congress by Oct. 1, 2013, requires HHS to analyze currently available data on costs and payments for ambulance services. The second requires HHS to assess methods of regularly obtaining cost and payment information from ambulance providers to assess the effectiveness of Medicare reimbursement rates, due to Congress by July 1, 2014.

AHRQ releases newest health database

The 2010 Nationwide Emergency Department Sample (NEDS) is the newest database released by the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality through its Health Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP).

NEDS is one of several databases and software tools developed as part of HCUP with databases that combine the data collection efforts of state data organizations, hospital associations, private data organizations and the federal government to create a national resource of patient-level health care data. The databases enable research on a wide range of health policy issues ranging from cost and quality of health services to medical practice patterns to treatment outcomes.

NEDS is the largest all-payer ED database in the United States and provides many research applications, as it contains information about geographic, hospital and patient characteristics as well as the nature of visits. The information provided includes whether patients were released from the ED or admitted to the hospital, and whether they had private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid or were uninsured. With more than 100 clinical and nonclinical variables for each hospital stay, NEDS enables analysis of ED utilization patterns and decision-making among public health professionals, administrators, policymakers, clinicians and other officials.

NEDS databases begin in 2006 and end in 2010. Go here for more information.

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