Edited Version August 25, 1999 Transcript
EIIP Tech Arena Online Presentation

"Database Application for People With Special Needs"

Judy Jaeger
Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA)

The original unedited transcript of the August 25, 1999 Tech arena presentation is available in EIIP Virtual Forum Archives <http://www.emforum.org>. The following version of the transcript has been edited for easier reading and comprehension. Typos were corrected, date/time/names attributed by the software to each input were deleted but the content of questions and responses are as stated by each participant. Answers from the participants to questions by the audience are grouped beneath the appropriate question to facilitate meaning.


Amy Sebring: Welcome to the EIIP Tech Arena!

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Today, we are pleased to welcome, Judy Jaeger; Planner with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA). Judy has been involved with a project to develop a database application for people with special needs. The platform they are using is Lotus Notes. However, I believe the concepts embodied could be transported to other platforms without much difficulty.

Welcome, Judy. Thank you for joining us today.


Judy Jaeger: I'm glad to be here!

Georgia's Special Needs Database was developed by a task force comprised of representatives from Emergency Management, Emergency Medical Services, Public Health, Home Health Care, medical facilities and the Department of Family and Children Services. The database was first designed as a Dbase stand-alone program, but we found we needed greater flexibility than that program offered. After a beta test, we converted to a Lotus Notes program because that format could be loaded onto our server at GEMA and shared with almost all counties in Georgia.

The database is intended to serve as a system to record and follow our People with Special Needs if they do not have caretakers and transportation arrangements in place. Just by asking the questions to collect data, we force people to think about their own preparedness plans. Often, by the time we finish a data collection interview, the person with special needs realizes that they have arrangements in place to serve them during an emergency or disaster. Amy, let's take a look at Slide 1, please.


Judy Jaeger: This is the title screen of the database. From here, you can either enter original data or skip directly to a report. Some of the report fields are indicated by the darker boxes on the right. Slide 2, please.


Judy Jaeger: "Client information" includes demographic data and a large field to insert directions to the person's home. Slide 3, please, Amy.


Judy Jaeger: We included a contact screen so we know who can provide reliable information about the person's special needs and possibly the names of a couple of neighbors in case we have trouble communicating with this individual. Slide 4, please.


Judy Jaeger: Our medical information is pretty comprehensive. These page alone helps us plan for the level of care and equipment we will need at a shelter where this person is housed. You might notice in three categories, we allowed space for "other" information, and then we provided a box in the lower right corner for further explanation.

This page is keyed so that anyone with allergies has a red alert sign beside their name in any given report. This way, the data manager knows to look closely at this person's background to determine if it is a food allergy, medication allergy, or such. Slide 5, Amy.


Judy Jaeger: Georgia's Home Health Care agencies have agreed to continue providing services whenever their patient must evacuate to a shelter, so we collect data on the agency providing home health care. We also indicate Medicaid and Medicare clients, as they might receive transportation assistance through their programs. Slide 6, please.


Judy Jaeger: We capture the provider of information about our People with Special Needs, and date the information. The program automatically assigns date and time when the data set is opened. For EMA use, we have some counties who use planning zones (primarily for evacuation purposes), so we added a collection point for that information.

At the lower right, you might notice "Level of Need." The American Red Cross and our Division of Public Health agreed upon five different levels of need, from one to five, with "one" being an ambulatory person who can stay comfortably in a congregate shelter. Level five is a person who would likely meet admission standards at a hospital. Slide 7, please, Amy.


This shows the drop-down information provided to the data entry person when a particular level of need is chosen. And I have one final slide, 8.


Judy Jaeger: A bright blue screen pops up as soon as this database is opened. All parties involved in the development were concerned about confidentiality issues. This screen serves as a reminder that this database is to be used for the care and management of People with Special Needs, and that the information contained here is proprietary. These People with Special Needs have given us their consent to include them in our database, and we need to guard their privacy carefully.

That's about it for background information. Amy, are you ready for questions now?

Amy Sebring: Thank you very much, Judy. I am sure we will have a few questions. I do want to say that because of confidentiality we could not show the summary reports as they contain real data. But that is where the computer power comes in, right Judy?

Audience please enter a question mark (?) to indicate you wish to be recognized, go ahead and compose your comment or question, but wait for recognition before hitting the enter key or clicking on Send. We now invite your questions or comments.

[Audience Questions]


David King: Judy, did you look at using existing E-911 systems for making this info available?

Judy Jaeger: Two years ago, when we were developing this system, we had fewer 911 systems in Georgia than we have now. We did what we thought would reach the most counties.


John Pine: I assume that the database is maintained at the state level with access by counties?

Judy Jaeger: John, yes, we maintain the database at the state level.


Russell Coile: If one is just starting, how would one find out who are these folks to ask them for info?

Judy Jaeger: In Georgia, we identify our People with Special Needs through Home Health Care and social services or referrals.


Daryl Spiewak: How often do you have to review the database and how much time/resources do you devote to database maintenance?

Judy Jaeger: The database is maintained at the county level. After the initial effort of inputting data, we ask that they review it periodically to be sure that it is up-to-date. This does not require a great deal of their time. And some counties are lucky enough that Public Health actually comes by to input and update data!


David King: Is this database kept at a central site and then accessed via Internet by the counties?

Judy Jaeger: Not really INTERnet, it is more INTRAnet.


Amy Sebring: Does the county do the initial data collection/interviews and how many counties do you have participating now?

Judy Jaeger: Yes, the county does data collection. They have a paper form that can be submitted by a referring agency. Only a dozen or so counties are using the system so far. They were eager to get set up.


Cam King: David/Judy, could you expand on how you looked at the E911 as part of this concept?

David King: E-911 has some fields for Special Notes that can be entered and come up when that person calls in or you check the database on them or their phone.

Judy Jaeger: Simple--I really didn't. I had a dBase system that we modified and blended into Lotus Notes.


John Pine: What is the reaction from county emergency management officials to this system? Scope of the data - ease of use - application to their needs?

Judy Jaeger: Several of my more active EMA Directors played a large part in beta-testing this system. I heard plenty from them when they tried the Dbase system. I listened to their input and made sure to address their issues. They seem to be very pleased with the user-friendly system here.


David King: What kind of numbers do you find (special needs people per county or percentage of population?) How big of a group?

Judy Jaeger: Initially, our EMA Directors told us that they had HUNDREDS of people with special needs. But when we implemented a tracking system, the numbers plummeted. In reality, they have a small percentage (maybe 1%) of people with special needs.


Merrily Powell: I'm sorry if this was covered in the beginning, but how are all of the counties and the state EMA connected so that they all access and benefit from this data?

Judy Jaeger: We share a Lotus Notes system via our server at GEMA. The counties replicate a copy of the database and use it from their local computer.


Amy Sebring: Judy, my experience is that there has been a great reluctance to get involved with this. What was the specific impetus in Georgia? Why did you do this?

Judy Jaeger: Our coastal counties were worried that we would leave behind someone frail, so they begged for a system.


David King: Have you worked with ARC on Special needs population training for responders?

Judy Jaeger: No, David. The ARC played a role in the development of this program.


Amy Sebring: Judy, we have previously done a session on Public Health plans in Georgia with Anita Kellogg. I take it that Public Health has been involved? How did you do training on the system?

Judy Jaeger: Yes, public health was involved. Most of our database users are self-taught. We had already provided extensive Lotus Notes training, so this was just an additional program for them.


Marilyn Barker: Once you have these people identified, what then? Who transports them to where they need to go?

Judy Jaeger: Marilyn, the local EMA Director appoints transportation manager to be responsible for moving non-ambulatory folks. This is just a tracking system. The local EMA then knows to consider these folks when he/she writes a plan.

Marilyn Barker: I work with the local EMA director. We do not have the manpower or the funding for this.

Judy Jaeger: What funding do you need?


Cam King: Judy, will Lotus Notes convert to Microsoft Access or did they all need to go to Notes?

Judy Jaeger: Cam, one of the good features about Lotus Notes is that is exports easily into Access so you can manipulate data, if you'd like to.


Amy Sebring: They already had Notes, didn't they, Judy?

Judy Jaeger: Yes.


Kevin Farrell: I'm not real familiar with Notes, but could your data be integrated into a GIS like those used in some 911 Centers? I'd be interested in viewing the information spatially. (BTW - our GIS interfaces with an Oracle 7 dB).

Judy Jaeger: Once you export the data, you can use Access or Excel to save the dB in whatever dB type necessary (except maybe Oracle). We have in the past integrated Lotus Notes Data with ArcView.

Kevin Farrell: In our case, it would have to be usable by Oracle.

Judy Jaeger: Sorry.

Amy Sebring: I am sure you could replicate in Oracle, Kevin!

Kevin Farrell: Yes, I think we could too. I like the concept.


John Pine: Given that databases are difficult to build and maintain - did you consider other options - i.e. just identifying special needs shelters without attempting to identify the population?

Judy Jaeger: John, we have worked hard to identify shelters where we can accommodate a wide range of people with special needs.


Gil Gibbs: To address the legal side, is it advisable to have a M.D. on staff or on the panel of evaluators?

Judy Jaeger: Absolutely.

Marilyn Barker: Just wanted to say thanks for developing the software.

Judy Jaeger: If my experience can be useful to someone else, I am glad. We learned plenty from our earlier mistakes.

Amy Sebring: Thank you very much for being with us today, Judy, and sharing this, we hoped you enjoyed it.

David King: Judy, it's a great idea and obviously a lot of time and thought went into it. Congratulations. Amy, great session and information, thanks.

Judy Jaeger: My pleasure. Thanks, everyone, for visiting and allowing me to share this info.

Final Question:

Amy Sebring: Would you like to put up an email address, Judy, for follow up?

Judy Jaeger: Certainly! Email is [email protected] or call (404) 635-7237.

Amy Sebring: Before we go to Ava for upcoming events, I would like to take this opportunity to recognize Tom Hale and thank him for his pledge yesterday. If you have not yet made a pledge to participate in the Virtual Forum, please see http://www.emforum.org/eiip/pledge/pledge.asp. We are getting close to the halfway mark to our goal!

Now Avagene, upcoming events, please.

Avagene Moore: Thanks, Amy, and my appreciation to Judy for a great job today and a very interesting topic.

Next Tuesday, August 31, 12 Noon EDT, the Central United States Earthquake Consortium (CUSEC), headquartered in Memphis, TN, will be hosting our Round Table. Look for further information on this session the first of the week.

We begin September with a Virtual Library presentation by Claire Rubin, Claire B. Rubin & Associates. Next Wednesday, September 1, 12 Noon EDT, Claire will discuss a new project, Disaster Time Line (1965-2000), that provides a unique, graphic depiction of major disasters, both natural and technological, that have affected the emergency management policies in the US. That's all for now, Amy.

Amy Sebring: Reminder, we will have an online transcript next week with links to the slides. Thanks, Ava and thank you, audience. We will adjourn for now, but you are invited to remain for open discussion.