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Ecuador Project, April 2003

MITAC sponsored a return trip to Ecuador in April of 2003 consisting of Drs. Michel Aboutanos and Stephen Cone. Dr. Aboutanos, a specialist in trauma surgery and a member of VCU’s Division of General/Trauma Surgery, directed this excursion as a means to evaluate the need for improvements in the care of trauma patients within the Morona Santiago province of Ecuador. This traced the typical route of patients from local “Subcentros de Salud” to “Hospitales Provinciales” and regional referral hospitals, as well as collecting local statistics regarding injuries and aeromedical transport. Our hope through this effort is to provide suggestions to improve the care of the trauma patients through instruction for the primary care providers.

Shadow Bowl, January 2003

Shadow Bowl was a situational awareness exercise for dealing with potential mass casualty events. MITAC and a select group of research institutions were invited to San Diego to demonstrate their baseline technical capabilities "live" at Super Bowl XXXVII. Under the direction of Brett Harnett, MITAC made modifications to an existing physiologic monitoring system so it could measure the particulate mass of ambient air that might indicate presence of pathogens. By working with REDD/MMAD, a sensor development company at the Virginia Biotechnology Research Park, the system was modified and successfully demonstrated.

The result was a portable, battery-operated device capable of collecting real-time particulate measurements, logging them locally and transmitting the encrypted data over the Internet using standard digital cellular to a web server at VCU. This graphed data was available to the command center at San Diego State University and anyone on the World Wide Web. But what is most interesting in the system is the communication link redundancy. In the event of an emergency such as in New York City on September 11th, the cellular services will likely become overburdened and fail. For this reason, a redundant, inexpensive topology was engineered into the unit - Iridium, the Low Earth Orbiting Satellite (LEOS) system.

The plan was to simulate the cellular network "going down" and route the data to Iridium. Ironically, the team was unable to transmit data at game time presumably due to the large increase of voice traffic from the fans in Qualcomm Stadium. The air quality readings from the experimental sensor were then sent successfully via Iridium.

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