An emergency medical practitioner sits in an ambulance, speaking into a radio handset connected to a cell phone.

Three Ways FirstNet Enhances Patient Care for EMS

Reliable, dedicated communication is vital for those on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response, especially our emergency medical services (EMS) providers. As the nation’s only public safety broadband network designed specifically for first responders, FirstNet is built to provide them a reliable connection to the tools they need to serve their communities. During the current situation with COVID-19, people are working and going to school from home, which can strain commercial cellular networks. That is not the case for FirstNet because it is a dedicated, purpose-built network for first responders. This means FirstNet users do not have to compete for access to their network.

As technology evolves, public safety agencies are finding new and innovative ways to carry out their daily activities, and FirstNet gives them a wireless broadband platform to use in the field. For EMS providers, mobile broadband is expanding technology use, such as increased access to telemedicine services, including relaying important patient information quickly, creating secure hospital connections to conduct virtual visits with physicians, and delivering better quality care in rural or remote areas. 

Here are three examples of how EMS providers across the country are leveraging the services and features FirstNet provides to enhance patient care quality and access.

Increased Access to Information in Virginia

Just north of the James River in Virginia sits Goochland County, home to approximately 20,000 people within roughly 300 square miles. One resident, Tabitha Smithers, knows the rural county well. She serves as a volunteer paramedic with the Goochland County Fire and EMS as well as an emergency aviation flight nurse.

In her full-time position, Tabitha brings critical care medicine into the county’s rural areas, meeting patients where they are and administering services as quickly as possible as a flight nurse. She also serves patients in rural areas as a volunteer with Goochland County. Rural connectivity in Goochland County and surrounding areas can be a challenge. In both capacities, Tabitha requires access to a wide variety of data and information, including call details from county and Helicopter EMS dispatchers; information on weather; and electronic resources for patient care. With FirstNet, Tabitha has experienced fewer connectivity issues, which means she can get the information she needs, regardless of her location.

“It’s super crucial that we have a reliable network because not having the ability to communicate not only affects patient care, but it also affects the safety of those involved and the ability for our providers to be efficient in their care,” noted Tabitha. “Having access to resources is beneficial to both the providers and the patients.”

Listen to Episode 31 of the Public Safety First podcast to hear more from Tabitha.

Ease of Access in Mississippi

AAA Ambulance Service provides emergency and non-emergency medical transport services to 16 counties across southern Mississippi. With such a wide service area in a largely rural landscape, communication from dispatch to ambulance crews can be a challenge.

The FirstNet network has helped AAA Ambulance overcome these challenges by providing the vital connection it needs to connect to hospitals, as well as to other first responders and medical providers. Crews can also talk to one another, their supervisors, and dispatch utilizing talk groups on their smartphones. Having easy and reliable access to one another and other public safety officials is helping AAA Ambulance better serve patients. “What’s important to me and my crew members is the ease of accessing FirstNet,” explained Andy Geske, Chief of Information Technology for AAA Ambulance. “FirstNet can put everybody on the same page where that response is best for the patient.”

With FirstNet, AAA Ambulance now has the opportunity to take advantage of innovative new technologies, allowing them to use the best tools available to treat their patients.

Check out this video to learn more about how AAA Ambulance Service uses FirstNet to improve patient care.

Advancing Patient Care in Rural Kansas

Situated at the confluence of the Smoky Hill and Republican rivers, Junction City, Kansas experiences many of the same challenges as other rural communities across the country. In order to receive the best care for certain medical emergencies, patients are often transported to larger hospitals located at least 45 miles away.

The Junction City Fire Department’s EMS Division is using technology connected to FirstNet to provide advanced patient care while en route to the hospital. Kent Vosburg, Junction City Fire Department EMS Division Chief, explained, “We use our tablets as hotspots for FirstNet to send data straight to the hospitals so they can get real-time information about the patients.” When they need to transport patients to the larger hospitals miles away, the team calls the doctors to provide an overview and answer questions. Data is also transmitted from the in-ambulance monitors straight to the hospital, so the doctors are prepared before the patient arrives.

Additionally, the EMS Division uses FirstNet to streamline internal operations. They can use their tablets connected to FirstNet to access electronic patient reports, collect signatures more efficiently, and transfer important patient information directly from the monitor to the electronic patient report.

Discover the other ways the Junction City Fire Department’s EMS Division is using FirstNet.

We Serve You

The FirstNet Authority is working to bring coverage, capacity, priority, and preemption to first responders across the country, helping them save lives and serve their communities. And as the FirstNet buildout continues, rural responders – such as the three described above – will have access to tools that will increase efficiency and enhance patient care.

We are grateful for the men and women who continue to protect and serve us on the front lines every day. The FirstNet Authority is proud to work with our network partner AT&T to deliver innovations for EMS and to support you by providing a reliable connection to communicate and access the information you need during these challenging times and always.

Interested in learning more about how FirstNet is helping transform communications for EMS? Contact your local FirstNet Authority Public Safety Advisor and sign up for our EMS quarterly newsletter.

For more information on FirstNet products and services, visit FirstNet.com.

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