EMS World

OCT 2018

EMS World Magazine is the most authoritative source in the world for clinical and educational material designed to improve the delivery of prehospital emergency medical care.

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44 OCTOBER 2018 | EMSWORLD.com PATIENT CARE EMS' Hard Reality Protocols that direct EMS personnel to search patients for medical-alert wear- ables are indeed rare in the U.S. And despite Vasil's hopes, this isn't likely to change. Though she's sympathetic to Vasil's con- cerns, Cunningham says looking for medi- cal-alert wearables—especially when there are so many styles—just isn't feasible. "In a critical situation EMS shouldn't be tasked with searching for that," says Cunningham. "They are there to initiate acute lifesaving care and transport the patient to the nearest appropriate medical facility. My primary job is to save your life, not to search for a computer chip while delaying emergent lifesaving treatment." A two-person crew has too much to do to search for medical-alert wearables first. Plugging in USB keys, using NFC wireless communications, and scanning QR codes to access patient data is just not currently practical. Many ambulances do not carry computers or have reliable wireless connections. For those that do, the wide variety of operating systems installed in medical-alert devices can be incompatible with the software utilized by the EMS agency. "Even if they had the time, EMS crews cannot count on having Internet access, let alone having the technology on hand to read these devices," says Cunningham. "While this may work in the hospital, where there are lots of practitioners and high-end technology, it's really not very useful in the field." A Tricky Dilemma Clearly there is a growing disconnect between the kind of patient protection promised by medical-alert wearables—par- ticularly the high-tech ones—and how much EMS personnel actually seek and access these wearables during care. "This is why I advise people that the original, basic MedicAlert bracelets are still the best," Cunningham says. "They are relatively easy to see, and EMS personnel are accustomed to recognizing them." For someone in Vasil's position, Cunningham recommends alerting local EMS agencies to her and her family's conditions. This way their critical information will already be available should the family ever need emergency treatment. If there is a moral to this tale, it is that consumers should not count on medical- alert wearables to deliver on the promises they make—at least not without checking with their local EMS agency first. As for the improved EMS awareness Vasil seeks, it might make sense to settle on a single medical-alert standard that is interoperable throughout all EMS and healthcare systems, and actively promote it to consumers, manufacturers, and local EMS agencies. By doing so, consumers could buy medical- alert wearables more likely to be noticed by first responders. ABOUT THE AUTHOR James Careless is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to EMS World. For More Information Circle 39 on Reader Service Card NAEMT.ORG/EDUCATION /NAEMTFriends /NAEMT_ 1-800-34-NAEMT Access courses when you need them and how you want them – classroom, online learning, printed or electronic materials. Evidence-based EMS Education From a Trusted Brand in Quality

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