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Transformed by technology: The new face of EMS

Technological advances such as RFID have transformed both the efficacy and efficiency of ambulance service


Content provided by ACETECH

Emergency Medical Services have come a long, long way since the first use of the word "ambulance." The word actually originated in Spain, from the siege of Málaga in 1487. Clearly the term’s root is connected to walking, but rather than referring to the practice of dragging the wounded on a cart to a field hospital behind the frontlines, it referred to a peripatetic treatment service "walking" to where it was needed – the original paramedics!

In every century since, upgrades in capability have followed technical advances made in the wider world. The speed-critical demands of emergency care often provide the first serious opportunity for real-world pressure-testing. It’s literally life or death stuff.

The days of arriving at an incident scene without a crucial piece of equipment are pretty much behind us.
The days of arriving at an incident scene without a crucial piece of equipment are pretty much behind us. (Photo/Getty Images)

The past decade has seen a faster rate of evolution than ever, and it’s fair to say that technological advances such as RFID have transformed both the efficacy and efficiency of the sector. Paramedic personnel are both better trained on an individual level and better assisted by the tech they carry with them, leading to an unprecedented upsurge in benefits to both the public and providers.

Let’s take a look at some of the key areas to benefit.

EFFICIENCY

It’s RFID – Radio Frequency Identification - that has probably had the greatest impact here. When looking for an example of how the much-heralded Internet of Things presents a step-change in connectivity, people often default to novelties such as fridges telling you when you’re low on milk – helpful, but hardly a must-have. In the EMS sector, it’s become rather more mission-critical.

The days of arriving at an incident scene without a crucial piece of equipment – or leaving something on the roadside as the team dashes to hospital – are pretty much behind us. These are by definition stressful environments, where time is always of the essence, and people are fallible. ACETECH Asset Intelligence ensures that first responders can perform their roles without having to worry about missing or lost equipment. It also eliminates understandable human error – like forgetting to charge devices –  and even ensures that all medical equipment is in-date and, where for example temperature-controlled, still in a usable state.

Once all the required kit is on board and fully functional, the human side of the job becomes that much easier – freeing people to concentrate on saving lives. 

Our Vehicle Intelligence products can also provide real-time reporting functions on the vehicle itself, a service specifically tailored to EMS fleets – allowing fleet managers to stay constantly in the know about everything that affects an ambulance’s capacity to do its job at the optimum level, 24/7. This also yields a wealth of data about how best to improve fleet activity in the future, coupled with real-world insights from our hundreds of EMS operators across the globe.

It’s all a long way from a domestic fridge. 

SAFETY

Ambulance driving is always a hazardous occupation, but connected technology is making it less so all the time. For example, ACETECH AVA (Audio Voice Alert) is an audio driver coaching tool that provides real-time feedback on driving styles, so as to coach safer driving maneuvers and make drivers aware of safety hazards.

Remote monitoring of speed, G-forces, use of lights, sirens and even seatbelts all have a direct effect on outcomes. The driver is understandably in a hurry, but technology can massively reduce the danger that comes with that. 

At vehicle level, critical maintenance warnings that operate automatically, with no human needing to remember to check, bring obvious safely benefits – as do cameras that monitor the activity inside and outside of every ambulance. This can also protect personnel from false accusations of malpractice.

SECURITY

ACETECH Asset Intelligence uses RFID technology and intelligent software to provide live visibility of equipment both in-store and in-vehicle, even when vehicles are on the road. When you can locate and track valuable assets in real time, they’re always in sight, with real-time alerts both from the cloud and in-vehicle if equipment goes missing.

Integrating ACETECH VISION in the vehicle to also hugely improves security. External camera technology provides additional vehicle surveillance security while an interior camera protects both patient and paramedics. In the event of a staff assault or any other unexpected situation inside the ambulance, having footage available helps to resolve critical issues as quickly, safely and effectively as possible. This safety system, with our easy to use software, even allows for real-time remote viewing if required.

ECONOMY

Underpinning all the frontline benefits of RFID and video technology is a huge overall benefit in costs. Investment in state-of-the-art systems pays back in more ways every day.

Vehicle tracking lengthens the lifespan of emergency vehicles and lowers maintenance outlay; driver monitoring saves both fuel and accidents; surveillance helps avoid costly insurance claims. Most of our partners also find that the upfront cost of insurance comes down significantly once the fleet is up to speed with the latest monitoring equipment.

Inside the ambulance, inventory control - from gloves to expensive lifesaving tools like automated external defibrillators - brings obvious cost benefits. As for pharmaceuticals, once you know what’s in date and exactly where it is, the costly demons of wastage and spoilage virtually disappear in a well-run operation.

This kind of Asset Intelligence ensures no asset goes to waste, while also keeping track of stock temperatures for compliance.

Back at vehicle level, ACETECH ECO-Run is an award-winning, EMS-focused product that allows vehicles to automatically shut down the engine when needed, reducing unnecessary idling while monitoring battery power levels - automatically starting the engine when required.

At a time when emergency services budgets are besieged from all sides, like Málaga over five centuries ago, having a technology leader such as ACETECH on your side makes all the difference. 

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