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Emergency Preparedness Resource Inventory (EPRI)

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3. Setup and Customization

After you install EPRI, and before you start collecting any inventory data from organizations in your area, you need to customize the inventory structure for your jurisdiction. By customizing the inventory structure, you will populate various drop-down lists and list boxes that appear on data entry and reports screens.

There are five customization steps:

  1. Define the Resource Types (select 'Manage Resource Types' on Home Page).
  2. Define the Resources (select 'Manage Resources' on Home Page).
  3. Define the Location Types (select 'Define Location Types' on Home Page).
  4. Assign Resources to Location Types (select 'Define Locations Types' on Home Page).
  5. Import a list of towns, zip codes, counties, and States into the database.

As explained in this section, the first four items can be accomplished using EPRI Web pages that are accessible to EPRI's system administrator (i.e., you must log into the system as the system administrator to do the customization). There are no Web pages for entering the geographic information—a database administrator is expected to import this information into EPRI's database.

The Resource Types, Resources, Location Types, and Resource/Location Type assignments we used in the pilot project are included in both the "live" and "demo" databases. In addition, these data are listed in the Appendix volume.

Resources and Resource Types

EPRI has a three-tiered approach to categorizing resources of interest—resource class, resource type, and resource:

  • There are four pre-defined resource classes—facilities/equipment, personnel, supplies, and yes/no. Resource classes are fixed; they can only be changed by modifying EPRI's computer code.
  • The EPRI system administrator can define as many resource types as desired. Each resource type belongs to one (and only one) resource class.
  • Once resource types are defined, as many resources as desired can be assigned to each resource type.

Table 1 illustrates this three-tiered approach. For each resource class, two resource types are listed, and for each resource type, two resources are listed.

The broad diversity of resources in the above table demonstrates why the ability to customize data entry pages for each location type is important—there is no point, for example, in asking any facility other than a hospital how many ICU Beds they have.

The Appendix volume contains the entire resource list; in addition, the resource list is included in the EPRI download package from the AHRQ Web Site.

Resource Class

The resource class determines the specific questions (i.e., data entry fields) on the inventory data entry pages. These questions are grouped into two categories—non-emergency and emergency. During our pilot project, we found this distinction useful for limiting the amount of data that organizations controlling resources had to provide: we told organizations to answer only non-emergency questions and that they would be asked to answer emergency questions only in the event of an actual emergency.

As shown in Table 2, the questions also depend on the resource class to which the resource belongs:

Resource Class Questions Asked for Each Resource
Non-Emergency Emergency
  • Total
  • Average Daily Census
  • Total Now
  • Total in 24 Hours
  • Total in 48 Hours
  • Total Full Time
  • Total Part Time
  • Available Now
  • Total
  • N/A
  • Yes/No
  • N/A

If a system administrator creates a new resource type, the resource type must be assigned to one of the above four resource classes.

The distinction between the supplies and facilities/equipment resource classes may not be immediately apparent. We based our decision on whether a resource type belonged to supplies or facilities/equipment on the speed with which the resource could be re-supplied. In general, supplies represent resources that are easily replaceable in a short time period. Bandages, for example, can be ordered and shipped overnight to a hospital; by contrast, delivery time for fire engines is much longer.

Resource Type

Resource types are groups of similar resources. Resource types are defined on the Resource Types Page (login as the system administrator and select 'Define Resource Types'). Figure 1 (26 KB) shows the Resource Type Page.

Attributes of each resource type are:

  • Name.
  • Resource Class. The resource class to which the resource type belongs.
  • Report Every ___ Days. The reporting frequency is used to determine when data are "out of date." Such data are highlighted on the Location Inventory Report (Section 6).
  • Display Order. The integer in this field controls the ordering of the resource types on the inventory data entry Page for each location.

We defined 29 resource types; as part of the customization process, system administrators can edit, delete, or add to this list.

  • Clicking the 'edit' link on the far left part of each line enables the system administrator to change the displayed information for the corresponding resource type.
  • Clicking the 'X' at the far right part of each line deletes the corresponding resource type; this method of deleting objects holds for several other EPRI screens.
  • Clicking 'Add New' allows the system administrator to add a new resource type.


EPRI includes several hundred specific resources (go to the Appendix volume for a complete listing of the resources). Resources are defined by selecting 'Manage Resources' on the system administrator's home page. To see the resources defined for a particular resource type, select the desired resource type from the drop down list. Figure 2 (24 KB) shows some of the resources assigned to the resource type "antibiotics":

As shown in the diagram, the attributes of each resource are:

  • Resource Name.
  • Units (not currently used in EPRI).
  • Active. If the status is 'False', the resource will not appear on any inventory data entry page.
  • Display Order. The integer in this field controls the ordering of the resources on the Inventory data entry page for each location.

System administrators can add a new resource to the current resource type by clicking "Add New", edit the attributes of the resource by clicking 'edit', delete a resource by clicking 'X', or select a different resource type from the drop down list.

System administrators can view, download to Excel, or print all the resource types and resources by selecting the 'Resource List' report on the Reports Page.

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Location Types

Specific locations (i.e., facilities) that control resources are grouped into location types. The significance of a location type is that you can create custom data entry pages for specific location types, but not for individual locations (go to Section 3.3).

The 33 location types we used in our pilot project are in the Appendix volume. Examples include hospitals, police departments, and emergency management agencies.

The system administrator defines location types by selecting 'Define Location Types' on the home page and then clicking "Add New" (Figure 3, 25 KB).

Attributes of each Location Type are:

  • Name.
  • Assigned Resources. As explained in Section 3.3, clicking the Assign Resources link enables the system administrator to specify the resources that will appear on the inventory data entry pages for all locations that belong to the particular location type.

Location types can be deleted by clicking the 'X' to the right of the particular location type.

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Assignment of Resources to Location Types

The Resources by Location Type page is where the system administrator assigns resources to location types, thus creating a custom inventory data entry page for each location type. Without this capability, the data entry pages for each location would list all the resources in the database.

The Resources by Location Type page lists the resource types, as well as the number of specific resources within each resource type, that are currently assigned to the indicated Location Type. For example, Figure 4 (24 KB) shows the resource types currently assigned to the location type "Emergency Medical Service/Ambulance," as well as the number of resources within each resource type that are assigned (e.g., 5 of the 6 resources within the Communications Equipment resource type are assigned to this location type).

Additional resource types can be assigned to the location type by selecting the desired resource type from the drop down list and clicking 'Add'.

Clicking the plus (+) sign next to a resource type displays all the resources assigned to the resource type and whether or not each resource has been assigned to the location type. For example, Figure 5 (25 KB) shows the results of clicking the plus sign next to the "Communications Equipment" resource type:

Figure 5 shows the specific resources within the Communications Equipment resource type that have been assigned to Emergency Medical Service/Ambulance location type.

The location type/resource assignments we used in the pilot test are contained in the Appendix volume.

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Part of the customization process involves specifying the cities, counties, States, and ZIP codes in the area for which inventory information are being collected (i.e., the target area). EPRI uses this geographic information in two ways. When a new location is entered (Section 4.2), the location's city, county, State, and ZIP code is selected from pre-populated (via the customization process) drop down lists. In addition, the list of cities is used to generate a report that shows resources within a certain distance of a city (go to Section 6).

The system administrator must obtain and import directly into EPRI's SQL database specific information about cities, counties, States, and ZIP codes located in the target area (e.g., in our case, an eight-county area of east central Pennsylvania). Table 3 shows the structure of the tables in the SQL database that contain this imported geographic information.

Of these data, the most problematic to obtain are lists of cities and ZIP codes, together with their latitudes and longitudes.2 There are three major sources of these data.

  • System administrators should first check with agencies within their State (e.g., a State planning agency) to determine if they can provide these data.
  • Another data source is commercial GIS (geographic information system) software. Latitude and longitude data for cities, counties, and ZIP codes are routinely included with commercial GIS packages (e.g., those from ESRI or MapInfo) and can be easily exported to a format (e.g., ASCII) that in turn can be imported into EPRI's SQL database (assuming, of course, that this is consistent with the GIS package's licensing agreement).
  • Finally, these data are available online, free of charge from the U.S. Census Bureau, as described on the next page.

2 In EPRI geographic calculations, cities and ZIP codes are represented as "point objects"—their latitudes and longitudes should therefore correspond to the latitude and longitude of their centroid.

Obtaining Geographic Data from the Census Bureau Web Site

The steps for obtaining EPRI geographic data from the U.S. Census Bureau are explained via a series of screen shots taken from the Census Bureau's Web Site.

Note that the Census Bureau also makes these geographic data available on CD and DVD. The CDs generally cover one State at a time and cost $50 each; alternatively, one DVD includes the entire country and costs $70. See the Census Bureau Web Site for more information on ordering "Census 2000 Summary File 1" data.3

Step 1: Go to the Census Bureau's main data page at

Proceed to Step 2


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Mapping Setup

Users who want to display the location of resources entered into EPRI on digital maps have two options.

The first option is to use a commercial mapping package (separate from EPRI), such as ArcView or MapInfo. Using these packages, you can either link directly to EPRI's SQL database or export the SQL database to Microsoft Access and then link to the Access database. To do the latter option, you can run the "Export Access Database" report available on the Reports Menu (Section 6) to create the Access database. With this option you must provide the maps (e.g., street, county, State) on to which the resource locations are plotted.

The second option is to use EPRI's mapping capabilities. As explained more fully in Section 6, with EPRI you can:

  • Create a map showing the location of resources within a certain distance of a town.
  • Overlay demographic data on a map of the location of resources, so that you can study the relationship between resource locations and, say, population.
  • Obtain a map showing the route between a town and a location housing a particular resource.
  • Obtain driving directions between a town and a resource location, including the estimated travel time.
  • Create a map showing the relative resource levels by county.

You do not have to supply any digital base maps (e.g., street, county, State) of your area to use the EPRI mapping features. Based on the parameters specified by the user on EPRI's map Web pages, EPRI retrieves the appropriate maps from an external Web Site hosted by ESRI (, a leading supplier of geographic information systems software and data.4

EPRI can only retrieve the base maps (and obtain other map services, such as geocoding and driving directions) from ESRI if EPRI's ESRI account listed in the EPRI configuration file (go to the installation instructions in the Appendix) is active. At a minimum, this account will be active for all EPRI sites until November 2004. Visit the AHRQ Web Site ( or contact Abt Associates for the status of this account after that date. Individual sites using EPRI can also purchase their own ESRI subscription after November 2004; in Spring 2004, a one-year subscription (or 100,000 transactions, whichever comes first) costs $1,250.5

4 To do this, EPRI uses the FIPS code of the counties in your target area; these codes are listed in the County table of the EPRI SQL database, as explained in Section 3.4.
5 For more information, go to

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