Since 1967 Americans have been conditioned to dial 9-1-1 for any emergency. FirstWatch has played an important role in making this data available to public health officials, many of which did not understand that 9-1-1 is dialed for more than “heart attacks and car accidents” and that 9-1-1 is an integral part of every community’s public health system and situational awareness system. Combining the real-time analytical features within FirstWatch with the analysis of 9-1-1 data assures public health and public safety officials that they will be alerted to concerning trends (or patterns) as they occur – anytime, day or night.
September 2006, during an otherwise normal day at Edmonds-Woodway High School located north of Seattle, pepper spray was released inside a school building. Initially only affecting a few students in a small area, as the chemical agent dispersed in the high school more and more staff and students became symptomatic. Ultimately more than 25 people were treated at the scene including many who were transported to nearby hospitals over the course of the event. While the incident was still active, the automated FirstWatch System identified not only the influx of patients, but also identified the geographic cluster (hot-spot) of activity and alerted officials. This event proved an effective test of FirstWatch as an “All Hazards” early warning system.