5 key technology trends for EMS personnel

CarolinaFireJournal - Cheryl Bikowski
Cheryl Bikowski
07/15/2014 -

Emergency management service technology is emerging and developing quickly in order to make the services more affordable and efficient so more lives can be saved. Five quickly emerging technologies include wearable devices for EMTs, budget-saving inventory tracking and asset management programs, enhanced technology for locating cellphones calling 911, automatic crash notification systems and rapid overdose treatment.


Enhanced Inventory Tracking and Asset Management
There are increasing inventory, asset management and fleet tracking systems that help reduce equipment overstock to help EMS departments reduce inventory budgets, vehicle maintenance budgets and medical equipment budgets.

These systems quickly allow EMS personnel and managers to track inventory as it leaves the stock room and as it’s used on patients. They can alert management when an order needs to be placed and facilitate fast ordering through purchase order generation. The asset management feature tracks equipment via barcodes and allows the equipment to be checked out by employees and assigned to ambulances or other emergency vehicles. Fleet management features support tracking of vehicle maintenance costs and the vehicle’s maintenance schedule.

911 Cellphone Locating
Every cellphone must have the ability to make an emergency call if it has power, regardless of whether or not it has a current minute and data plan. Unfortunately, if the individual doesn’t know where they are or can’t provide an address, 911 operators and EMS personnel can spend precious minutes looking for the injured person.

Work is currently underway to enhance the GPS tracking ability of cellphones in order to exactly pinpoint the caller’s location. One of those ways is through Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs). These points collect information from cellphones that dial 911 and allow dispatch operators and EMTs to quickly locate the injured or endangered person.

There is also an application in development that would give 911 dispatchers control of the caller’s cellphone. The University of North Texas is currently developing the application, which will be designed to utilize the cellphone’s camera along with specific other features that will be built into the app, including caller vital signs.

Automatic Crash Notification
Automatic Crash Notification systems (ACN) are currently being implemented in new cars. One company that is currently developing and implementing such systems is Toyota. ACN systems need to be able to compute the severity of the crash and the likelihood that one or more individuals need emergency medical treatment.

Current reports suggest that the implementation of this system will save lives by predicting the seriousness of injuries and recommending trauma centers, decreasing emergency personnel response times, and helping injured individuals receive better on-site triage care.

Wearable Intelligence Systems
Google Glass has the potential to exponentially help EMTs and other medical personnel by providing them with non-intrusive, wearable devices. Applications already exist for this new technology, including medical library databases, address locators and live image feeds.

With Google Glass, EMTs will potentially have the ability to transmit live images of the patient to emergency room doctors and nurses, and recall previous digital medical data for the patient. This technology will rapidly speed up hospital response times and save lives.

Rapid Overdose Treatment
Drug overdoses and OD-related emergency calls are on the rise, especially heroin overdoses. This is due to the increased availability of heroin and the medical community’s crackdown on powerful prescription painkillers due to high instances of addiction. As a result, individuals who are in chronic pain or post-op can’t get as many painkillers legally.

To rapidly counter the effects of an overdose, EMTs and other first responders are being equipped with Evizio, which is a medication that is put into an automatic-injecting syringe and administered to overdose victims. The goal is to put this rapid-response overdose kit into the police car, ambulance and fire truck of every first responder in order to prevent overdose deaths.

Cheryl Bikowski is the Marketing Communications Supervisor of Gamber Johnson in Stevens Point, WI. Gamber-Johnson is a leading supplier of emergency vehicle consoles for EMS, law enforcement and fire vehicles and is a member of the Leggett and Platt Commercial Vehicle Products (CVP) Group.
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