ERWIN — While calling it a “very significant investment,” MedicOne Medical Response President Jim Reeves said the ongoing installation of mobile data terminals in the company’s ambulances in Unicoi County should lead to quicker patient care information for paramedics and doctors.
The data terminals, which are Panasonic Toughbooks, are already online and the mounting of these devices in the ambulance trucks is nearly complete. This will eliminate paper charts for patients, and paramedics will have instant access to records for patients previously transported by MedicOne, giving emergency crews an idea of the best course of action to take on a call.
“This is pretty important for the fact that if we have a patient in our database, meaning we’ve transported that patient before, all the medical records will populate to our Toughbook,” Reeves said. “So if the patient’s unable to speak or experiencing a medical crisis, we’re already going to know their drug allergies and their medications and their past medical history.”
Prior to this, Reeves said EMS crews would have to obtain such information from asking bystanders, asking family members or, in case of emergency situations, simply not ask because of the need to transport the patient as quickly as possible.
The implementation of this technology also will improve the process of recording patient information, Reeves said. It will allow EMS crews to complete tasks such as uploading photographs from the scene of an accident to extracting a patient’s cardiac rhythms, blood pressure and pulse, allowing them to be populated into a patient care report.
“When it’s all said and done, it will all be automated and the real neat thing about it is we will be able to send this information to the hospital, sometimes before we even get there,” Reeves said.
A couple of other EMS services in the region utilize similar technology, Reeves said, but Unicoi County has never had the mobile data terminals. Reeves said the implementation of this technology, and other upgrades in the works, are not part of MedicOne’s contract with Unicoi County and therefore are not presenting an additional cost to taxpayers.
“We are bringing Unicoi County’s EMS system up to the 21st century, something they’ve never had,” he said.
MedicOne also is working with Unicoi County’s emergency dispatch service to provide an interface with the county’s mapping system. Reeves said this would be similar to GPS in that waypoints would be sent to guide EMS drivers seeking unfamiliar locations.
Reeves said MedicOne also has the ability to satellite track each of its ambulance trucks allowing officials to log-in and not only see where a truck is at any given moment, but also do “play-by-play” progress of ambulances while on routes.
The company has also installed what Reeves referred to as “drive cams,” which face in and out of the cab of ambulances and record audio and video in the trucks at all times.
Reeves said the use of such cameras is not a “big brother system,” but serves as a protection tool for EMS crews and others on the road. The cameras not only record ambulance driver habits but also g-forces within the ambulance to ensure drivers are operating the ambulance in a safe manner.
“We’ve got the black box technology on our trucks that is really not very common,” Reeves said. “I don’t think very many ambulances in the country have this technology.”