Mississippi Center for Emergency Services getting new facility a - WLBT.com - Jackson, MS

Mississippi Center for Emergency Services getting new facility at UMMC

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) -

The ground is broken on a new facility that will put innovation and technology to work to improve Mississippi's emergency medical responses.

The Mississippi Center for Emergency Services already exists at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, but will expand its capabilities with the new building.

Turning the dirt for the new facility is an event several years in the making. It will become the nerve center for communicating both in everyday critical care situations and disasters.

"This is a game changer," said U.S. Senator Roger Wicker. "A quantum leap for Mississippi."

Mississippi first won a $73 million federal broadband grant while Haley Barbour was Governor. It was put on hold at one point, but given the the go-ahead to move forward in 2016. That allowed the statewide radio system known as MSWIN to be expanded.

"In Katrina, it became very clear that the first thing government needs is the ability to communicate," explained Haley Barbour. "Because in Katrina our systems were obliterated. We had no cell phone service. Satellite phones didn't work. Hard line phones didn't work."

"People don't understand the power of talking to each other," noted Dr. Damon Darsey, medical director for the Mississippi Center for Emergency Services.

The grant will also make it possible to add a video component, connecting EMS in the back of an ambulance to specialists and doctors who can start seeing the patient before they ever arrive.

"This is very helpful in rural areas where there's not a doctor around the corner or certainly there's not a specialist and there's not somebody that understands a critical injury," said Barbour. "And that can be all the difference in saving a life."

The center's reach is statewide. And they say that doesn't always mean transporting a patient to Jackson.

"We don't necessarily win by bringing patients here," said Darsey. "We win by moving the stuff, the gear towards them."

Construction is slated to start this fall with an estimated opening in 18 months.

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