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3. Inventory is Flexible and Customizable
EPRI allows a State or local authority to specify precisely which location types, resource types, and resources are to be included. The extensive lists can be readily shortened or expanded, and can be changed whenever needed. At present, the inventory is configured for the eight-county area of Pennsylvania where it was pilot tested; this configuration may not be optimal for other regions. Resources or locations currently not included may become necessary in the future and can be added.
This section explains how to customize the inventory to meet particular needs and circumstances. Complete instructions for installing and operating EPRI appear in the Technical Manual.
Configuring Locations and Resources To Tailor the Inventory Structure to Needs/Circumstances
Decide Which Resources To Inventory
EPRI uses a hierarchy of specific resources within resource types. A resource type might be 'antibiotics,' while resources would be each type of antibiotic you wish to include (e.g., those useful in response to a bioterrorism event). A resource type might be 'physicians,' while resources would be the types of physicians you want to include (e.g., specialists in burns, trauma, infectious diseases). The inventory is organized with this two-tiered structure as an organizing principle to enable relatively quick and straightforward movement around the data warehouse. Rather than searching for each individual resource, one can drill down to the resource type, of which there are 28, and then to the specific resource.
The Appendix contains the entire matrix of resource types and resources currently included in EPRI. The Technical Manual explains how to create new resource types and resources, to customize the inventory as needed.
Determine what types of locations own/control the resources you want to inventory
EPRI uses the concept of a location type. An organization may have one, and only one, location—a stand-alone nursing home, for example. Or an organization may have several locations—a nursing home chain, or may have both nursing homes and home health agencies—two different location types. The inventory contains fields for entering information about the parent organization, and each of the distinct locations that are a part of that organization. The inventory structure now includes many types of locations, and more can be added. Some searches will be at the level of location type—what resources local hospitals contain, what resources are available at fire stations, etc. Therefore, an organizing principle for location type was needed and project staff specified 33 location types ranging from animal control facilities to college campuses to hospitals for inclusion in the inventory.
The Appendix contains the location types currently structured in the inventory—any of which can be altered by future users. The Technical Manual explains how to create new location types.
Match Resources to Location Types
EPRI allows the system administrator to specify what resource types and resources the different location types are likely to control. Some location types are likely to only have a few relevant resources, while others have vast resources relevant to any sort of disaster or terrorist event. Initial decisions were made by project staff about exactly which resources are likely to be relevant for which location types. For example, based on recommendations from emergency response providers and other individuals on the project steering committee, the types of emergency transportation vehicles that emergency medical services (EMS) providers often have available, as well as those that might be available through a county emergency management agency, were included in the inventory for those location types.
The Appendix shows an example of the location type-resource matrix currently structured in the inventory—any of which can be altered by future EPRI users. The Technical Manual explains how the matrix of resources may be customized.
Figure 1 (30 KB), a screen shot from EPRI, shows a particular type of location (emergency medical service/ambulance), and a particular resource type (communications equipment), and indicates which of the specific communication equipment resources have been activated for EMS/ambulance organizations. Steering committee members advised that five of the six types of communication equipment are likely to be available at EMS/ambulance locations, and EMS/ambulance companies will be asked to report on these five. The sixth resource (specialized communication van) is not a resource that EMS providers are likely to have and these organizations will not be asked to report on it. System administrators can decide which specific resources are relevant for each location type, and can activate or inactivate any of the resources currently assigned to that location type. A system administrator might, for example, decide not to ask EMS/ambulance companies about their communications equipment at all; or might even decide to omit EMS/ambulance companies from the inventory entirely.
On the Web site, the administrator can open each resource type, thereby enabling the entire list of resources within it to appear. Those resources that the administrator wishes to activate for the particular location type (in this case, EMS/ambulance) are checked. The accompanying Technical Manual provides detailed instructions for modifying any of the settings in the inventory, adding or deleting resources or resource types, adding or deleting location types, altering which resources are relevant for each location type, etc.
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Periodically Updating Data
EPRI is designed to support periodic updating. An E-mail generated within EPRI can be sent to all participating organizations asking that they update their data. Each participating organization would be asked to review their data and update anything that has changed since the last reporting. Rather than requesting that all data be re-entered, only personnel and equipment resources that have experienced change over the interim need to be reported, thereby minimizing the burden on participants.
Each resource in EPRI can be set to a different periodicity for updating. Some resources change very infrequently (e.g. fire trucks, burn unit beds) while others resources are almost constantly changing (e.g. personnel, drug inventories). A system administrator may decide to seek updated information on resources that change infrequently at a frequency of only once per year, while those resources that change rapidly may need to be updated quarterly. Again, the flexibility designed into the system is intended to allow the system administrator to minimize burden on participating organizations and tailor EPRI to unique settings and circumstances.
The data manager and data entry person designated by each participating location have the ability to generate a report of that site's specific resource inventory. This site specific report can be printed or downloaded for other mandated reports or the organization's own planning needs.
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