Earlier this week, NFPA was contacted by the US Department of Health and Human Services, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (HHS/ASPR) Division, as the agency has made a change in the system platform they use to monitor the location of electricity dependent DME (ventilators, oxygen concentrators, powered suction pumps) populations that reside independently in their communities. The HHS/ASPR program is known as emPOWER; a main part of its function is to give first responders - fire, EMS, law enforcement, and USAR - awareness of where individuals who rely on electricity dependent DME are located. This can help prioritize resources during natural disasters such as wildfire, floods and wind events, where electrical power may be lost for hours or days, thereby endangering those individuals.
Effective February 12, 2019, the first responder and private sector partners who have been using the HHS emPOWER Program’s Representational State Transfer (REST) Service now need to switch over and register on the new platform, HHS emPOWER REST Service_Public.
The new system will continue to allow the DME information to be overlaid on a community’s own GIS platform. The data layer displays the total number of at-risk Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Medicare beneficiaries that rely upon life-maintaining and saving electricity-dependent medical equipment and cardiac devices in a geographic area, down to the zip code. In doing so, partners will be able to continue to gain population-level situational awareness of electricity-dependent populations in their own GIS applications.
Over 2.5 million Medicare beneficiaries rely on electricity-dependent medical equipment, such as ventilators, to live independently in their homes. Severe weather and other emergencies, especially those with long power outages, can be life-threatening for these individuals.
The HHS emPOWER Map is updated monthly and displays the total number of at-risk electricity-dependent Medicare beneficiaries in a geographic area, down to the zip code.
The HHS emPOWER Map gives every public health official, emergency manager, hospital, first responder, electric company, and community member the power to discover the electricity-dependent Medicare population in their state, territory, county, and ZIP Code. When combined with real-time severe weather and hazard maps, communities can easily anticipate and plan for the needs of this population during an emergency.
Learn more about the challenges of independent living and home health care, including the role of ASPR, from the FPRF/NFPA 2015 Summit on Safe, Independent Living: Home Health Care, Aging Populations and the Residential Environment