Should EMS providers use ‘Alexa’ as a reference in the ambulance?
An EMS agency recently announced it would be installing Amazon Echos in its ambulances, and our readers weighed in on the decision
By Shelbie Watts, EMS1 Editorial Assistant
A recent article about Brewster Ambulance Services in Quincy, Ma., installing Amazon Echos in its ambulances to allow responders to have hands-free access to procedure protocol sparked quite a bit of conversation amongst EMS1 Facebook fans.
While some readers thought the technology could prove useful in stressful situations, others vehemently disagreed. What do you think? Would "Alexa" be a nice addition to your ambulance or an unwanted guest? Take a look at what our readers had to say and be sure to share your opinion in the comment section below.
An unnecessary tool
The majority of our readers who voiced their opinion on EMS providers referring to "Alexa” when they want to double check things such as medicine measurements believed that if they need to use Alexa, they’re not trained well enough.
"Alexa, tell me how to lose the trust of patients and families by showing them that the internet can do my job.” Julian Waters wrote. “There is a world of difference between having a reference available and relying on prompting from this B.S.”
Lori Richardson took it a step further and suggested that EMS providers who use the technology shouldn’t be in an ambulance in the first place.
“If you need a box to tell you how to do your job, you need off the truck,” she said.
Mike Doss said a good, old fashioned study session is what EMS providers really need.
“How about reviewing the protocols on the way to a call if you're unsure of a dosage or procedure or, maybe just maybe, pull out your protocol book and look it over every now and then,” Doss said. “Do not practice until you get it right; practice until you can't get it wrong!”
Hands-free and happy
Other readers suggested that the use of the device would not mean an EMS provider’s knowledge is lacking, but that the EMS provider would be able to keep treating the patient while double checking something, rather than dropping everything and picking up a book or computer.
“I don't really see what the fuss is about,” Tyler Kurzenberger said. “It won't tell them how to do their jobs, just when it's 3 a.m. and you're running a pedi call and, for the life of you, you can't remember your dose, it's easier to yell out, ‘Hey Alexa what's my dose for ... ’ while you're managing something else than it is to stop what you're doing, open your protocols and sift through them looking for your answer while your patient deteriorates.”
Adam Siegel agreed.
“People are complaining about a hands-free way to double check the dosage of a medication that could kill the patient while they're in the middle of trying to save their life,” he said. “Nobody is asking Alexa to read their 12-lead or get a differential diagnosis for the sniffles. But who in their right mind wouldn't want to be able to yell out their drug calculation and get an answer without having to write it out on the wall and ignore their patient while they struggle with middle school algebra.”
Kevin Campanella added that he’d rather not de-glove to reference protocol on his phone.
“I'm sorry, but the last thing I'm going to do is grab my phone with dirty gloves to reference something ... or take the gloves off and then try to re-glove with sweaty hands,” he said. “By no means should this be a substitute for knowing your protocols, but as a reference on the way to a call to verify a med or dosage, so you and your partner can be hands-free and keep two sets of eyes on the road, why not?”
What do you think? Is "Alexa" a step in the right direction or a mistake? Be sure to let us know.