How FirstNet Enhances Emergency First Response

Fire departments, EMS and other emergency personnel are turning to technology to enhance emergency first response and make better use of resources. Many 911 calls involve medical issues that do not qualify as true emergencies and can be addressed during an appointment with a physician at a later time. These types of lower priority calls often lead to unnecessary trips in ambulances, longer wait times in emergency rooms and take up emergency responders’ time that could be spent helping others in greater need.

The influx of non-emergency calls consumes first responder resources so much so that the Chula Vista Fire Department recently analyzed 1,800 routine calls and found that only 0.12 percent of those calls resulted in the highest level of medical emergency. Implementing telemedicine technology and treatment protocols that minimize transport can be beneficial to first responders nationwide, resulting in more effective response. By helping to reduce the number of ambulance transports, emergency responders’ time is freed up to respond to true medical emergencies elsewhere.

Agencies across the country are facing similar challenges. A dedicated communications platform like FirstNet® allows emergency responders to use telehealth solutions, such as video teleconference or near real-time transmission of data, to better serve communities by efficiently and quickly identifying patients who require emergency care and separating them from those whose conditions are less critical.  This type of near real-time triage can reduce the number of patients taken to the ER via ambulance, making better use of limited community medical response resources, such as ambulances and ER capacity, while at the same time helping to deliver critical care to those who need it most.

Reducing Ambulance Trips and Emergency Room Visits

Rugged 2-in-1 computers that connect to FirstNet, like the TOUGHBOOK 33, allow first responders to prioritize and better respond to emergencies—helping to ensure that everyone gets the care they require.

In addition to being able to transmit critical patient care data on the go, TOUGHBOOK devices can connect people in need of emergency medicine physicians in near real time to determine the best course of action. This teleconference capability often includes a video conference with an emergency medicine physician to collaborate with the paramedic to assess what’s best for the patient at the time, which is only made possible with a fast and reliable network like FirstNet.

Innovative solutions are now being implemented around the country to avoid costly ambulance trips and ER visits, and to transform the way emergency professionals respond to lower-priority calls. These solutions employ firefighters, EMTs and paramedics with TOUGHBOOK devices that allow them to set up a teleconference between the patient and a trained emergency medicine physician to review the patient’s vital signs remotely and make an informed decision on whether or not that patient needs to be transported in an ambulance to the ER. If an ambulance transport is not needed, the physician can help the patient make an appointment with a doctor. With access to FirstNet, connectivity is optimized so patients receive adequate care quickly and emergency responders stay connected in the most critical circumstances.

By pairing healthcare with technology, emergency responders nationwide are able to deliver better and more efficient healthcare to communities and prioritize those who need it most by freeing up ambulances and resources for high-priority calls. With rugged mobile devices that are connected to the FirstNet service, first responders can trust that they’ll be connected anytime, anywhere, and focus on what matters most—the patient.

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