Royal Columbian Hospital and Eagle Ridge Hospital

Alternate Communication for Medical Teams at Events with High Ambient Noise

The Mass Gathering Medicine Interest Group, affiliated with the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of British Columbia, is currently conducting a research project studying the use of alternate means of communication at mass gathering events with high ambient noise (HAN).


In our experience, at mass gathering events or disaster scenarios with HAN, voice communications via radio or mobile phones between health care providers or emergency responders are often incomprehensible and thus unreliable. Communication problems are listed as one of the most common challenges associated with disaster medicine responses in the disaster medicine literature, and efficient communications are crucial to effective delivery of emergency medical services. Text-based communications between health care providers using handheld wireless devices at mass gathering events has yet to be reported in the literature, and has not been formally evaluated. The purpose of this study is to evaluate whether the use of text-based messaging using wireless handheld devices such as mobile phones or BlackBerry devices can safely and reliably provide a primary and/or secondary means of dispatching and directing emergency responses at mass gathering events or disaster scenarios that are in an environment of HAN.

An efficient text-based communication system could significantly improve the efficacy and efficiency of medical team member response in environments with high ambient noise. Conclusions and findings from this study could be applicable to disaster medicine scenarios, where communications are cited as the number one challenge in many situations.

Click the link if you have any questions or desire further information about the Alternate Communication study.