The evolution of EMS
By Heidi Hattendorf
Emergency Medical Services (EMS) worldwide are looking for one integrated communication solution to move their data real-time between the ambulance, the hospital and in some cases a medical dispatch center. Right now, many utilize manual processes to share information. They often have disparate and disconnected equipment in the ambulance. They need to update laborious forms manually. Hospitals may have limited information about patients coming in, and precious treatment time is lost during long transports.
Two-way radios and computer aided dispatch (CAD) systems, have long been used for end-to-end incident management communications and to route ambulances to accident scenes. Today, communication companies are joining forces with medical equipment/service companies to virtually connect systems within ambulances for automatic data aggregation and sharing.
Systems are being developed to help determine the best communication service and direct communications in a multi-bearer system. For ambulance communications, this helps ensure continued communications with the hospital or dispatch. There are also solutions to gather patient data from various medical devices and centralize the information on one screen at the back of the ambulance, giving paramedics a single point of reference as opposed to having to look at multiple machines. This information can also be shared in real-time with incident managers and emergency room doctors.
Ambulances are linked to the command and control centers via dispatch. There are in-vehicle, secure two-way radio systems providing mission-critical voice and data services plus CAD linked to mobile data terminals for exact routing and resource mapping. New communication technologies are being extended to the back of the ambulance and to the wider incident scene outside of the ambulance.
The integration of systems and streamlining of critical data are essential elements that can increase information sharing accuracy and help significantly improve real-time data transfer between paramedics and EMS departments.
For large incidents, the ambulance is playing an important role. The increased data capabilities of today’s Land Mobile Radio (LMR) systems and the overlay of public and private LTE means greater efficiency and faster delivery of critical patient information. This frees up paramedics to focus more on the patient and less on paperwork.
The future also holds increased promise of delivering data capabilities and aiding information flow. Further connection of disparate hardware and software systems means greater efficiencies, lower costs and more focus on the patient. Real-time connections with doctors, already being made available today, will increase as experience grows in the consumer market with face-to-face programs. The industry will then come to expect these types of linkages to get an early view into the scene. This is especially critical for trauma patients during the first hour, which is referred to as the “golden hour” by doctors and paramedics where it is critical that patient assessment information be reviewed and the right information provided to the medical command at the ER as quickly as possible. Also, for cases of longer transport times, the ambulance can suddenly become a mobile Emergency Department.
Heidi Hattendorf is director of Innovation Development at Motorola Solutions. She has more than 20 years of experience in telecoms from public safety and two –way radio, to consumer mobile phones and netowkr solutions on 3G/4G. Ms. Hattendorf is also responsible for a global Innovation framework, which harnesses and drives ideas from within the teams to create new solutions for the market. Motorola Solutions looks forward to being a partner in this evolution and helping connect the people who save lives.
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