N.O. program watches for homeland security threats

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wwltv.com

Posted on January 30, 2013 at 6:47 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 30 at 9:06 PM

Katie Moore / Eyewitness News
Email: kmoore@wwltv.com | Twitter: @katiecmoore

NEW ORLEANS -- New Orleans emergency managers are assembled in the city's Emergency Operations Center keeping watch for any threats that may arise for the Super Bowl.

They're using a computer system to watch for any trends that emerge, including any health emergencies.

“It takes the computer aided data directly from the 9-1-1 system and puts it in a readable format,” said Jeb Tate, public information officer for New Orleans EMS.

From the outside, the computer program look like little stars on a map. But it's much more than that for New Orleans emergency managers.

“We have folks staffed here in the Emergency Operations Center 24/7 and that is one of the main programs that is pulled up on their laptops in front of them. Looking at calls for service, keeping an eye out for any trends,” Tate said.

First Watch is the computer system they now use to keep track of emergency calls. For example, if they get a large number of calls to 9-1-1 about a white powder, it will set off alarms.

“We've set up virtual geo-fences around high-profile locations around the city to look for very specific activity from a fire, police and EMS perspective,” said John Selters, a representative of First Watch.

Ambulance calls will help Homeland Security and the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals spot any disease outbreaks or bio-terror attacks early.

“We are going to be looking for respiratory symptoms, things that are going to look like the flu. Things that are going to look like pneumonia. But also we are concerned with gastroenteritis because we are concerned with diarrhea, vomiting because there is a lot of norovirus transmission these days,” said Dr. Raul Ratard, Louisiana state epidemiologist.

 

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