Burning buildings are just one of many challenges that Fire Rescue faces on a daily basis. According to Aaron Dean and Mick Messoline of FireEngineering.com, “Fire suppression and prevention are only two of the numerous duties a fire department must carry out.” In fact, many calls are actually medical emergencies that many jurisdictions require firefighters to obtain EMT or Paramedic certifications. Armed with these certifications in addition to their training, firefighters are equipped to carry out multiple roles, including on-scene patient care and transport. In addition, they can get closer to patients in any situation, such as motor vehicle accidents, building fires/collapses, floods, and earthquakes. But as the responsibility of Fire departments is increasing in the delivery of healthcare, the more challenges arise, specifically, communication.
Challenges in the Field
Fire departments have seen real challenges over the last several years. Increased call volume has become a daily reality as patients with inadequate or no health insurance turn to 911 to address health crises. These increased calls mean that departments need streamlined modalities for everything from basic treatment to recognizing in-field STEMI’s. They need clear communication with nearby medical facilities and neighboring EMS units. Unfortunately, almost 40% of fire departments have no backup dispatch facility, and almost 10% of departments are reporting that they cannot communicate with their response partners at the incident scene. Those numbers are daunting. Without cohesive communication, delays in care can mean the difference between life and death.
Increasing Efficiency through Telemedicine
When units work together, the results are simple but significant. Efficiency increases, response time decreases. Simple math- with life-saving implications. As shown by a 2018 study in Houston, Texas, when firefighters were dispatched with EMS, firefighters were the first to arrive on-scene by almost 2 minutes in 46.7% of calls. Those two minutes can drastically improve the outcome. So why not have a system that allows firefighters to communicate with both EMS en route and the local ED? Why not implement a FirstNet-backed system that provides firefighters and EMS with one complete, clear app that results in the reduction of unnecessary trips the ED?
Since implementing their Telehealth program, Houston Fire Department has seen an 80% decrease in ambulance transport. When firefighters are given the opportunity to determine the severity and treat on-scene if possible, EMS get the green light to attend to more severe calls. The FDNY, the largest and one of the most well-respected departments in the world, exclusively implemented a Telehealth system for their response teams.
Why not equip your Fire-EMS response team with the efficiency and accuracy of Telemedicine?