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Emergency Medical Services

Emergency Medical Services

Public safety and healthcare are two of the most rapidly innovating industries, and not only do they intersect at Emergency Medical Services (EMS), but many of the innovations in both industries extend to the field of EMS.

Applications such as real-time video, mapping and asset tracking are increasingly being used by incident commanders when dispatching first responders to an emergency. GPS location information identifying the nearest ambulance to a call shortens response times. For severe traumas, the nearest hospital may not be the best facility. Mapping applications showing hospital asset information can help EMS personnel transport the patient to the best-equipped facility. Access to medical record databases can give EMS personnel insight into pre-existing conditions, prescribed medicines and other information that impact immediate care. In EMS, the Golden Hour is a critical period after a traumatic injury or heart attack in which the right medical care can be the difference between life and death.

Telemedicine uses telecommunication and information technologies to provide clinical health care at a distance. It helps eliminate distance barriers and is used to save lives in critical care and emergency situations. By leveraging video, biotelemetry and other applications, hospital staff can guide treatment prior to a patient’s arrival at the hospital. This can be especially beneficial for long-distance transports from rural areas when MedEvac is not available.

These technologies are only possible through the evolution of wireless data networks. To date, ambulance companies and fire departments have relied almost exclusively on commercial carrier networks for mobile data service. And while these networks typically provide reliable service, they are not always available when and where EMS personnel need them most. Commercial carriers do not always provide coverage in rural areas to support telemedicine for long-distance transport. And during major incidents when public safety officials have the greatest need for accessing critical data and applications, carrier networks are often brought down due to high congestion leaving them without vital tools and information [1].

The availability of electronic information in the EMS industry is expanding greatly. From telemedicine, to emergency response guides which provide unique protocols for specific jurisdictions, to hazardous materials and drug interaction databases – EMS personnel are relying more heavily on mobile tools and information to improve patient care.
Public Safety Long-Term Evolution (PS LTE) will provide public safety a dedicated broadband wireless network to ensure that public safety officials have access to the right tools and information when and where they need it.


[1] – For example, after the Boston bombing, commercial networks went down for 90-minutes during which time EMS personnel did not have access to data such as patient capacity or availability of specialized equipment at medical facilities for the most efficient triage of patients.