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FirstNet In Action: Emergency Medical Services

Updated: May 22, 2019

By Licia Wolf

With the recent advances in mobile wireless connectivity in public safety, the Emergency Medical Services industry is undergoing a ground-braking transformation.

Communications from the field are changing: what was previously LMR and in-vehicle radio to dispatch is now supplemented with LTE mobile devices that communicate not only with dispatch but with other agencies such as police and fire. Moreover, “smart” mobile devices allow multi-media communications across a wireless network. With the launch of FirstNet, data such as images, video, and even medical history can be shared between EMS workers and other agencies.

Changes in EMS Operations

Equipped with specialized apps (discussed in a previous blog), EMS is quickly becoming more effective and efficient. The “always on” preemption of the FirstNet wireless network offers major enhancement and additional layer of redundancy to ensure critical communications will occur uninterrupted. The previous dispatch process was cumbersome and limited in scope, and team members often experienced delays in receiving information. With a complex web of

communications during time-sensitive events, patient outcomes could suffer. Just five years ago the FirstNet system and its apps were a hopeful vision, but today they are becoming a reality and patient outcomes are improving.

Using wireless mobile LTE devices and FirstNet, the patient’s condition can be assessed quickly by first responders exchanging information in real‐time or near real-time with audio, video, and equipment feeds to hospitals and physicians while on the scene and during transport. In some cases, physicians can immediately pull patients’ records and recommend treatment. To comply with HIPAA regulations, patient data is securely sent through the FirstNet network with FirstNet apps.

Utilizing all this information means that 911 dispatch and command centers must have the capability to receive and transmit through LTE and the internet, as well as possess the digital infrastructure to process the data. Data must also be captured and stored for later retrieval and analysis with software such as HigherGround. Additionally, this voluminous data can be more efficiently managed using web-based CAD and Records Management Systems (RMS) which allow streamlining of data from these devices to enable dispatchers to better assist in emergencies.

Shareable Information and Use Cases

Patient condition – Using audio with radio, mobile phone, and video, as well as images texts, and emails, information can be shared with dispatch or a health provider.

Vitals – vital readings can be taken at the scene and during transport that are also shareable in real time. Apps are available that can read heart rate, blood pressure, and more with the assistance of small monitoring sensors. Monitors on board ambulances and aircraft include ECG with defibrillators, haemoglucometers, thermometers, ultrasound and CT, which can now be shared in real time to dispatchers or the hospital. Some monitoring equipment can transmit reports and images directly through the internet.

Location – Location-based apps can be used to help locate the incident, and for tracking while transporting the patient.

Medical Records – Patient records can now be shared quickly with paramedics at the scene, enabling more informed decisions for treatment.

In-Vehicle Sensors – Many cars are now built with crash sensors that transmit alerts in the instance of an accident. FirstNet is developing a system for crash sensor data that can predict damage and injury, so the correct extrication resources will be dispatched.

Paramedics are now using their cell phones and in-vehicle tablets or laptops in addition to two-way radios to share information. This multi-level communication helps insure reliability and eliminate transmission lapses. Push-to-talk (PTT) apps, priority, preemption, and security of FirstNet allow quick communication between team members and among agencies.

Ambulances - During an emergency EMS vehicles can view traffic conditions and choose fastest route, and aircraft can monitor real-time weather and wind conditions for fight safety.

Drones with video cameras can not only execute search-and-rescue operations when helicopter use is not practical but can also deliver medical supplies to remote areas or locations not accessible by other aircraft.

FirstNet has enabled EMS to improve overall communication and achieve information sharing in real time that was previously unattainable. This system illustrates the power of advanced telecommunications for improving outcomes and saving lives.

HigherGround provides call recording and other data capture for PSAPs. For questions about our capabilities email us at info@higherground.com. HigherGround is FirstNet Ready.

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About the Author - Licia Wolf is the Marketing and Communications Manager at HigherGround. She holds a Ph.D., and a professional background in electronics, internet marketing, and print/imaging technology. Click here for more information on the rest of the HigherGround team.

HigherGround, Inc. provides best-in-class, reliable data capture and interaction storage solutions that enable clients to easily retrieve critical information. Our interaction recording and incident reconstruction solutions transform data into actionable intelligence, allowing optimization of operations, enhanced performance, and cost reduction.

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