BARDA partners with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory to develop a resource-tracking and communication application

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BARDA and colleagues across the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR) are partnering with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), to develop the Resource-related Information & Tracking Medical Communications Application (RITCA). The software communication application will address critical challenges with effective communications during mass casualty incidents, such as operating in low tech and low powered environments, faced by emergency responders and other medical professionals delivering care.

During a national emergency, first responders need to know which medical resources are immediately available and where they can be accessed. RITCA is a peer-to-peer application that will provide access to and process this information in real time. If development is successful, RITCA will build new, alternative methods for reliable situational awareness for decision makers to interface with responders on the frontlines of care during disasters and other public health emergencies.

The application also aims to empower timely peer-to-peer communications within trauma and burn care communities for emergency care scenarios. Additional capability to enable telemedicine would allow for remote guidance when mass casualty incidents may place high demand on existing resources.

The system is expected to be user-friendly for emergency response personnel and medical professionals and is expected to rapidly and securely provide critical information about an unfolding mass casualty incident to ASPR, other government responders, and the emergency response community at large. Although initially being developed for trauma and burn care, RITCA has the potential to be scaled up to become an all-hazard system. This dedicated bidirectional communication channel would also help to ensure that medical countermeasures are deployed effectively and used by medical professionals when needed most.

To ensure these communications channels are well-established, trusted, and tested, RITCA will be developed in collaboration with BARDA’s partners at the American Burn Association (ABA), the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), and the American College of Surgeons/ Committee on Trauma (ACS/COT).

Given the broad nature of communication management within the community that delivers care, RITCA is an ASPR-wide project. BARDA will collaborate with colleagues from ASPR’s Office of Security, Intelligence & Information Management (SIIM) and the Office of Emergency Management and Medical Operations (EMMO). To increase the likelihood of success, experts from these offices will communicate with medical professionals on the frontlines of care and integrate information into existing platforms.

The RITCA pilot project will begin with select burn and trauma centers in ASPR Regions 1 and 6, which include New England and areas in the American South. The pilot project will identify which HHS health information data sources are reliable for inclusion as well as ensure the RITCA tool is customized and valuable to the care community at large for routine use.

In addition, this alternative communication system is being designed to interface in real-time with multiple existing government and response systems. If determined to be feasible and sustainable, new capabilities, such as incorporating just-in-time training and telemedicine functionality, could be developed and added to the system.

Visit the Burn and Blast Medical Countermeasures Program to learn more.

About the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

The following information is provided by the company and does not indicate endorsement by the federal government of the company or its products.

The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab (APL) is a University Affiliated Research Center (UARC) that has provided critical contributions to critical challenges with systems engineering and integration, technology research and development, and analysis. APL’s scientists, engineers, and analysts serve as trusted advisors and technical experts to the government, ensuring the reliability of complex technologies that safeguard national security and advance the frontiers of space. The RITCA project is being developed through APL’s National Health Mission Area, which leverages APL’s cross-disciplinary capabilities to solve the nation’s most critical health challenges.

Last Updated: September 23, 2022

CBRN Portfolio

The CBRN investments support advanced research and development and national security procurement of medical countermeasures to addresses national security threats. This award is one component of BARDA's CBRN medical countermeasure portfolio; visit the CBRN Portfolio to learn more.