Coyote Crisis to test ASU during spring break

March 9, 2009

Arizona State University’s Tempe campus will be the site of a major disaster drill during the week of spring break.

The main event during the week of March 9-13 will occur on Tuesday, March 10, when a mock “improvised explosive device” creates a scenario that requires the response and resources of numerous police and fire units from throughout Arizona that are participating in the drill. Download Full Image

Approximately 1,200 volunteers will take part in the exercise, many of whom will play people injured in the incident. Volunteers are still needed for the event. To sign up, go to">"> and click on the volunteer tab.

ASU faculty, staff and students who are on campus on March 10 should not be alarmed if they see a large number of police and fire department units that day. Medical evacuation and news helicopters are also expected to participate in and cover the event.

“The ASU Police Department and members from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, along with members from other local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies will participate in Coyote Crisis 2009 in an effort to build upon our already great working relationships.  Though several areas will be evaluated, we will focus heavily on interoperability and interaction with other emergency responders to control, mitigate, and recover from a major incident,” says Allen Clark, ASU Assistant Chief of Police and Operation Section Chief for the event.

The Coyote Crisis drill will test crisis responses among federal, state, local and county agencies and organizations. “Victims” of the crisis will facilitate a test of Arizona’s mobile medical response with approximately 10 to 15 fire agency participants and about 25 hospitals from throughout the Valley. Some participants who are acting as victims will play their parts by wearing make up to simulate injuries.

“Coyote Crisis is an extremely important drill as it is one of the first times that all the area hospitals, public safety agencies, university, and business community have all worked together to test our capabilities to respond to a mass casualty incident,” says James W. Warriner, Arizona Department of Public Safety lieutenant and primary public information officer for Coyote Crisis.

ASU will test its emergency plan in part by responding to the crisis and setting up an Emergency Operations Center as well as the policy group that enlists the services of ASU senior management and a communications center.

Students from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications will play the part of print and broadcast reporters during the exercise. Many of those participating are using their spring break to learn the craft of reporting under pressure during an incident where things unfold quickly and regular communications can break down or become inoperable.

“They are looking forward to it,” says Michael Wong, Cronkite School director of Career Services, who is advising the participating students. “They look at it as an opportunity to practice their information-gathering skills.”

Wong is meeting with students before the drill to address any concerns or questions they may have about participating in Coyote Crisis. He looks forward to students being able to hone their reporting skills in a drill of this magnitude.

“We’re happy the Cronkite School students have this opportunity to assist in this exercise and to practice the skills they are learning in the classroom,” he says.

BMI offers nation's first undergraduate degree program

March 9, 2009

Arizona State University will offer the nation’s first comprehensive undergraduate degree program in biomedical informatics, beginning in the 2009 fall semester.

Biomedical informatics involves the integration of computer and information sciences with basic biological and medical research, clinical practice, medical imaging and public health disciplines. Download Full Image

The American Medical Informatics Association foresees 10,000 new jobs being created in the field by 2010. Phoenix employers, including Banner Health, United Health Care and Mayo Clinic, predict a local need for at least 200 new employees in the field within five years.

An undergraduate degree in biomedical informatics is also a viable choice for a pre-med program because it provides students with a solid background in life sciences and as well as the increasingly important role of information technology, said Robert Greenes, chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics in ASU’s School of Computing and Informatics, a part of the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering.

The program is designed to educate students and pursue research in specialties considered critical to fulfilling the promise of “personalized” or “customized” medicine – in which medical care is tailored to specific health profiles of individual patients.

Expertise in the field also will be essential to efforts to establish national systems for coordinating the use of new health information technology and for compiling and managing electronic medical records.

Biomedical informatics focuses on the interplay between computer science, cognitive science, social science, mathematics, biology and clinical environments in the health professions, Greenes said.

Undergraduates can expect a hands-on, interdisciplinary course load culminating in a senior-year research project. They will work in teams to apply knowledge learned in the classroom in a real-world environment to further expand their core skills and experience, he said.

ASU established a master’s degree program in the field in 2007 and a PhD degree program in 2008. Biomedical informatics students already are benefiting from collaborations with the University of Arizona College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Banner Health, Barrow Neurological Institute, the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System and ASU’s Center for Health Information and Research.

Much of the program’s work is based in downtown Phoenix, on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus. The Department of Biomedical Informatics is housed in the Arizona Biomedical Collaborative Building 1, which contains one of the largest research spaces dedicated to biomedical informatics at any university in the country.

ASU officials said a strong biomedical informatics program is key to ensuring Arizona medical institutions can help provide more efficient, safe, and low-cost clinical care in the future.

“The overall goal is to improve health care by developing more effective processes for applying knowledge gained from biomedical and informatics research to clinical uses,” Greenes explained. “Biomedical informatics is about streamlining this system in cost-effective ways that make patient safety and quality the first priority.”

For more information about the degree program, see the Web site">">

For information on courses offered through the program, see the Web site">">


Robert Greenes, greenes">">

Chair, Department of Biomedical Informatics

(617) 732-6281


Joe Kullman, joe.kullman">">

Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering

(480) 965-8122