In July 2013, Brandon Mitchell, Durham County’s Administration and Finance Chief for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) approached the county’s Information Services and Technology (IST) staff with a challenge: find a way to fully automate the county’s emergency management protocols, policies and procedures documentation electronically, using a web application that could be easily accessed by emergency personnel across multiple platforms.
For years, the information was stored in large, hardcopy binders and pocket notebooks that were cumbersome to use onsite, particularly within the confined space of emergency vehicles. The paper-based manuals were also costly to produce and had to be replaced frequently due to wear and tear in the field, adding to the $10,000 in yearly production costs. EMS personnel risked losing critical time administering patient care by having to manually search through the notebooks and take extra steps to record patient care information via mobile phone or laptop. Integrating the EMS protocol documentation into an intuitive, easy-to-use online tool for use on mobile devices would automate the implementation of these protocols by medical staff, saving money, conserving resources and enabling critical time in providing patient care that could save lives.
IST Applications Service Developer Mickey Mazarick, Project Manager Ivan Silis, and IST student intern Sterling Mason quickly responded to Mitchell’s challenge. Within a one-month time frame, Durham County’s EMS Protocol Mobile Website was launched. The website features a password-secured sign-in, a mobile-optimized interface (IOS, Android, and Windows Mobile) and an intuitive search tool that quickly and easily connects EMS team members to the information and resources they need to administer proper patient care, follow required protocols and procedures, and save critical time.
Since its launch in July 2013, the EMS Protocol Mobile Website has produced financially feasible, sustainable outcomes for Durham County and its citizens. By utilizing internal IST staff resources (including the services of the department’s student intern) rather than employing an outside vendor, overall development costs for the website were kept under $10,000. Additionally, the site is maintained by an internal EMS staff member, so there is little need for additional IST technical support, and subsequently less strain on IST staff and department resources. By converting the protocols, policies and procedures documentation from a hard copy to a paperless format, the county saves $10,000 in annual production costs to produce, update, distribute and replace the paper-based manuals. Communication and collaboration among emergency response personnel, hospital administrators and other medical personnel across the county is enhanced. Most importantly, however, time is gained, enabling emergency personnel to administer care to patients during those critical minutes that can save lives. The EMS Protocol Mobile Website is a win-win for Durham County and its citizens and will hopefully serve as a model for other counties in North Carolina with a need to improve efficiency and feasibility in delivery of emergency medical services.