Mobile medical response unit provides coordinated on-site emergency and disaster healthcare

The Hospital Center of the Basque Coast has developed the mobile unit within the framework of the innovation action of the EGALURG European cooperation network

The Hospital Center of the Basque Coast and the SAMU of Bayonne, one of the partner organizations of the EGALURG European cooperation network, has developed the U2MR, an original and innovative mobile unit for coordinated medical response that will provide healthcare coordination at major events, emergencies and disasters by moving the resource management center to the site of the incident. The aim is to ensure hospital coordination centers are not overwhelmed with patients and to reduce communication gaps between organizations and healthcare personnel to a minimum. The mobile unit was built within the framework of EGALURG Action 6 on innovation and development.

The U2MR will become the communication center for medical management of the disaster and the direct connection point between the advanced medical station and the healthcare services at the site, such as firefighters and healthcare personnel in charge of helping and evacuating victims. The mobile unit will also be responsible for sending real-time information on incident developments to the medical coordination center in the area. It is expected to be set up near medical stations such as the Europe Occitanie Multipurpose Mobile Unit (UMPEO) designed by the Hospital Center of Toulouse (CHUT), the EGALURG Project leader, and funded by the project.

The 16.8 m2 unit is 3 m high and consists of a module that can be towed by a passenger car. Emergency Medical Services IT equipment has been integrated into the unit, which will be used mainly for disaster medicine. It will have direct Internet and satellite connections to ensure optimum management of each incident. Touch screens will also be installed to facilitate data sharing among team members and radios will be used to distribute information to the medical personnel throughout the site with the aim of guaranteeing permanent connection and coordination. The module also contains a separate meeting room, an outdoor area shaded with an awning and a computer monitor to display information.

The U2MR is expected to be operative in September and may be used by partner organizations on both sides of the Pyrenees for real disasters and simulations. The mobile unit will be based in Bayonne and managed by SAMU 64, located at the Hospital Center of the Basque Coast.

Nicolas Harcaut, a member of SAMU 64 and EGALURG, was happy with the result. He said, “We’re proud to see this project come to fruition and we want to thank everyone involved for their hard work. The unit is a major step forward in terms of improving and optimizing patient healthcare and the way medical personnel work in crisis situations. Every minute that goes by is vital in an emergency and this tool will help us reduce action times to a minimum and ensure more effective communication and coordination.” Harcaut said that the satellite connection would be available in August to make the unit completely operative. “That means the mobile unit will be ready to handle disasters,” he said.

Visit to Cegelec facility

On 4 June, a team from the Hospital Center of the Basque Coast and the Hospital Center of Toulouse visited the facilities of Toulouse company Cegelec (the builder of the U2MR) for the first technical inspection of the unit. The two partner organizations were able to take a look at the mobile unit for the first time and make final arrangements for delivery. The SAMU team thanked the heads of the engineering firm on behalf of both hospitals for their fine work and professional performance, and for helping provide a response to the needs of emergency medicine in France and, through EGALURG-POCTEFA, in the Pyrenees.

Also working on the project are professionals from the Navarrabiomed Biomedical Research Center and the Emergency Medical Services of Catalonia, which are partners of the EGALURG European cooperation network. The project is co-funded (65%) by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Interreg Program V-A Spain-France-Andorra (POCTEFA 2014-2020). The goal of the POCTEFA Program is to strengthen the economic and social integration of the Spain-France-Andorra cross-border area. Its help is focused on developing cross-border economic, social and environmental projects through joint strategies in favor of sustainable regional development.

More than 80 people attend webinar on emergency and disaster medicine organized by EGALURG cross-border cooperation network

The project leaders presented the key points of this innovative initiative and the benefits for healthcare systems in the regions on both sides of the Pyrenees.

The webinar “Challenges for Emergency and Disaster Medicine in the Pyrenees,” organized by the EGALURG cross-border cooperation network and held on Tuesday, June 29, was attended by more than 80 people. The leaders of the initiative described the action taken to improve healthcare in the regions on both sides of the Pyrenees and presented innovative tools that improve conditions for patients and healthcare personnel, such as the Europe Occitanie Multipurpose Mobile Unit (UMPEO), which is being used in the fight against COVID-19.

Vanessa Houzé-Cerfon, the Director of the EGALURG network and a research coordinator in Emergency Medical Services at the Hospital Center of Toulouse (CHUT, leader of the initiative), was the first speaker. She described the project and said, “Our main goal is to create an operational cooperation network in emergency and disaster medicine to favor equal access to healthcare in all regions.” She went on to describe the benefits of the UMPEO developed by the CHUT and highlighted how quickly it can be deployed in crisis situations. She also presented the UMPEO’s accessory drone and satellite network, which are used to optimize care for patients in isolated locations.

The second speaker was Tomás Belzunegui Otano, the Scientific Director of the EGALURG Project at Navarrabiomed and Associate Dean of the Degree in Medicine at the Universidad Pública de Navarra (UPNA). He presented the map prepared by the UPNA research group of the healthcare resources in the region. He also described the database that will contain all the information on patients treated for multiple injuries. “We are developing a common database to be able to extract technical information and learn about good practices that can increase our patients’ survival rate,” he said. He also gave a very positive assessment of the experience with the UMPEO in Navarre. It was used to administer COVID-19 vaccines to a total of 750 people living in rural areas in the region.

Jorge Morales, the Medical Director of Emergency Medical Services of Catalonia (SEM), stressed the importance of creating joint action protocols in times of healthcare crisis. He said, “One of the biggest problems facing emergency services in cross-border areas is that major disasters with many victims can happen here and we all have to cooperate during these situations. Protocols must be simple and uniform.” SEM is also engaged in another task: creating a master’s degree program on emergency and disaster medicine that will be offered in 2022 by Université Paul Sabatier in Toulouse and the Universitat de Barcelona.

The final speaker was Nicolas Harcaut, a member of Emergency Medical Services at the Hospital Center of the Basque Coast in Bayonne. He began by describing his group’s experience with the UMPEO, which was used to provide support to the hospital’s emergency services in November and December 2020, when they were overwhelmed by the pandemic. A total of 266 patients were treated at the unit, 80% of whom had been referred from trauma care in order to make more hospital beds available for COVID-19 patients.

In the last few months, the Hospital Center of the Basque Coast has been working intensely on developing the Mobile Unit for Coordinated Medical Response (U2MR), an innovative resource that provides on-site medical coordination in crisis situations. It was recently presented at the facilities of Cegelec, the Toulouse company that built the U2MR. The Hospital Center of the Basque Coast is currently working on a study of healthcare services at major events with the aim of publishing European guides to good practice to be used in the organization of these events.

The webinar closing was given by Vanessa Houzé-Cerfon, who mentioned the activities scheduled for the coming months, such as the exhibition of the innovative tools built within the framework of the EGALURG network and the workshop on emergency medicine that will be held in October.

The project is co-funded (65%) by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Interreg V-A Spain-France-Andorra Program (POCTEFA 2014- 2020). The goal of the POCTEFA program is to strengthen the economic and social integration of the Spain-France-Andorra cross-border area. It focuses its help on the development of cross-border economic, social and environmental projects through joint strategies in favor of sustainable regional development.

Webinar sur des les défis des soins de santé en situations d’urgence dans la région des Pyrénées

Mardi, 29 juin, à 16 h, via Zoom (inscription préalable).

Le webinaire du réseau européen EGALURG qui se tiendra le 29 juin, mardi, à 16 h, via Zoom : Défis et enjeux des soins de santé en situations d’urgence et de catastrophe dans la région des Pyrénées, organisé par le réseau de coopération transfrontalier en médecine d’urgence EGALURG. Le consortium EGALURG se constitue de quatre organisations : le Centre Universitaire Hospitalier de Toulouse (Toulouse), le centre de recherche biomédicale Navarrabiomed (Pampelune – Iruña), le Sistema d’Emergències Mèdiques de Catalunya et le Centre Hospitalier de la Côte Basque.


Dans la session, avec une durée d’une heure, il s’abordera la nécessité de promouvoir la coopération en matière d’assistance médicale dans les situations de crise des deux côtés de la frontière, ainsi que l’importance d’harmoniser les protocoles d’action communs et ils seront presentés les outils innovants élaborés dans le cadre de cette initiative au profit des soins apportés aux patients de même que le travail accompli par le personnel de santé, par exemple, l’unité mobile polyvalente Europe Occitanie qui œuvre actuellement en faveur de la lutte contre le COVID-19.

L’évènement se tiendra en format de table rond virtuel dans laquelle ils vont participer les responsables du projet à chaque région. Vanessa Houzé-Cerfon, chef du projet EGALURG et coordinatrice de la recherche au SAMU 31 (CHU de Toulouse), Tomás Belzunegui, directeur scientifique d’EGALURG chez Navarrabiomed et Vice-Doyen aux études de Médecine à l’UPNA, Antoni Encinas, responsable du système d’urgence médicale de la Catalogne, et Nicolas Harcaut, professionnel du SAMU 64 (CH de la côte Basque).

Pour finir, les orateurs répondront les questions que les assistants pourront formuler par écrit aux conférenciers. Afin que les communications soient compréhensibles pour toutes les personnes qui se connectent, un service de traduction simultanée sera activé en français et en espagnol.

Toutes les personnes intéressées à assister doivent s‘inscrire au préalable. Plus d’informations sur l’événement.

Projet POCTEFA

Le projet EGALURG est un réseau européen de coopération transfrontalier pour améliorer les soins de santé dans les communautés isolées, les urgences et les catastrophes des deux côtés des Pyrénées. Il a été cofinancé à hauteur de 65 % par le Fonds européen de développement régional (FEDER), dans le cadre du Programme Interreg V–A Espagne–France–Andorre (POCTEFA 2014–2020). L’objectif du POCTEFA est de renforcer l’intégration économique et sociale de la zone transfrontalière Espagne–France–Andorre. Son aide se concentre sur le développement d’activités économiques, sociales et environnementales transfrontalières à travers la mise en œuvre de stratégies conjointes promouvant le développement territorial durable.

PROGRAMME DU WEBINAIRE D’EGALURG.

SEM promotes creation of cross-border directory of medical equipment and specialized master’s degree in health crisis management

Both initiatives are being promoted within the framework of the EGALURG network and will be announced in all regions involved during the third quarter of 2021.

The entities that form the EGALURG European cross-border cooperation network are making progress in their efforts to improve medical care in emergency and disaster situations in the Pyrenees region, despite the heavy workload caused by COVID-19. The Medical Emergency System (SEM) will manage actions 4 and 5 of the project, which focus on the creation and testing of joint cross-border protocols and the development of a university master’s degree to promote specialized training in emergency and disaster healthcare management.

One of the main pillars of the EGALURG network is to promote cooperation between regions to ensure that borders do not represent an obstacle when it comes to providing medical care and that medical devices can be mobilized to support other cross-border territories. One of the current tasks of the SEM team involved in EGALURG is to collect and categorize information on each region’s health units. This will allow joint action protocols to be developed. All out-of-hospital medical resources in the regions involved will be transferred to a map, which will be created together with the other member entities. 

Antoni Encinas, head of the SEM, provides a direct example of the advantages of using common protocols to make information and resources available to all members: “For example, if a health disaster were to occur in Puigcerdà, we know that several SEM ambulances would be able to reach the location to assist those in need within 20 minutes, but we don’t know what resources they would have on the other side of the border that could help us treat the victims.”

To achieve this, simply knowing what resources are available to the regions is not enough; it is also important to overcome administrative and legal barriers and to promote joint work to ensure that medical devices are effectively deployed in crisis situations.

Cross-border training

At the same time, SEM professionals are combining their healthcare work with participation in the project through the creation of a cross-border master’s degree in health crisis management, which will be offered as of the 2022-23 academic year. This degree program has an innovative edge over other university studies, since it has been designed as a theoretical and practical master’s degree, divided into four modules based on specific crisis scenarios that will increase in complexity as the program progresses.

It should be noted that this program, which is based on the acquisition of skills, has also been designed to attract professionals in positions that require large-scale decision-making, such as company managers or directors and senior civil servants who carry out essential work during potential health disasters. “This master’s degree is not aimed exclusively at health personnel. Students won’t learn how to intubate patients or stop bleeding. The idea is to provide them with the tools and knowledge they need to take the most effective action in a range of crisis situations and to offer the best possible medical assistance,” explained SEM professional Dr. Jorge Morales. Likewise, the program will be offered in two formats: complete training or modular training. The latter will allow students to take modules separately, depending on their interests.

The cross-border master’s degree will be taught by both the Universitat de Barcelona and Université Paul Sabatier in Toulouse and will be offered in two formats: complete training or modular training, depending on the specific interests of the students.  The full degree will last two years and will be divided into four academic semesters. The teaching staff will be made up of specialist professionals in the field of crisis management.  The complete program for the master’s degree will be published in the first semester of 2022.

Four entities involved

The EGALURG consortium is made up of four entities: University Hospital Center of Toulouse (Toulouse), Navarrabiomed Biomedical Research Center (Pamplona – Iruña), Hospital Center of the Basque Coast (Bayonne) and the SEM, a public body that operates throughout Catalonia to assist during prehospital emergencies. This latter entity is headquartered in Hospitalet de Llobregat (Barcelona) and has two additional offices in Reus and Barcelona.

The project is co-funded (65%) by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Interreg V-A Spain-France-Andorra Program (POCTEFA 2014- 2020). The goal of the POCTEFA program is to strengthen the economic and social integration of the Spain-France-Andorra cross-border area. It focuses its help on the development of cross-border economic, social and environmental projects through joint strategies in favor of sustainable regional development.

EGALURG uses innovative infrastructure and new training proposals to improve emergency healthcare in the Pyrenees

The third partnership meeting featured reports on these developments, including the mobile hospital used in the fight against COVID-19

The EGALURG cross-border cooperation network, which promotes improvements in emergency and disaster healthcare on both sides of the Pyrenees, held its third partnership meeting as a videoconference on December 10, 2020. During the meeting, a report was given by each partner on its progress: the University Hospital Center of Toulouse (CHUT), Navarrabiomed, the Hospital Center of the Basque Coast (CHCB) and the Emergency Medical Services of Catalonia (SEM).

The outcomes obtained thus far include the mobile hospital created by the CHUT for use in the fight against COVID-19. The hospital traveled to remote regions of Haute-Garonne to perform massive PCR testing in September and October. It is currently in Bayonne to provide support with emergencies at the CHCB, which has been overwhelmed by the pandemic. The hospital will travel to other partner regions in the coming months.

In January, the mobile hospital will be moved to Navarre to provide support during the coronavirus vaccination campaign to be launched by the Government of Navarre in early 2021. The CHUT will then send the hospital to Catalonia. Infrastructure of this kind is the result of the project’s technological research, development and innovation, which are focused on designing and developing tools that provide an improved response in emergency and disaster situations.

At the same time, the CHCB and Navarrabiomed have been working on creating an interactive map of all the healthcare resources in the regions on both sides of the Pyrenees. These partners are also analyzing the implementation of healthcare services by organizers of major events. The CHCB performed an exhaustive analysis of mass events held in Europe and created a survey, which was sent to the parties responsible for these events. When the responses have been analyzed, a proposal will be drawn up of common procedures and international guidelines.

Cross-border training

One of the project’s goals is to create a master’s degree program to promote specialized training for professionals in emergency and disaster situations. This activity is being coordinated by the SEM. The content of this two-year, hybrid, cross-border, interuniversity master’s program will be targeted not only at healthcare professionals, but also at other agents involved in these events, such as communication and logistics personnel. The program will consist of four modules on the specific kinds of crisis situations students will have to deal with. With the master’s thesis project, the master’s degree program has a total of 65 credits and will be taught starting in the 2021-2022 academic year.

Navarrabiomed reported on its design of an emergency simulation platform that can be used in teaching activities for master’s programs and other training courses at universities in partner regions. Despite the COVID-19 situation, the partner organizations are finding their way through the difficulties caused by the pandemic and putting all their efforts into making progress on the project, though many of the participants have to perform a juggling act to combine this activity with their healthcare responsibilities at emergency services seriously affected by coronavirus. However, the partners are optimistic and plan to meet in person at the next partnership meeting, to be held in Barcelona in June 2021, coronavirus permitting.

The total EGALURG budget comes to €2,343,192, of which €1,523,075 (65%) was co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through Interreg Program V-A Spain-France-Andorra (POCTEFA 2014-2020). The goal of the POCTEFA program is to strengthen the economic and social integration of the Spain-France-Andorra cross-border area. Its help is focused on developing cross-border economic, social and environmental projects through joint strategies in favor of sustainable regional development.