A New Danger in EMS?

I read an article this morning where Winnipeg declared Cellphones off limits for firefighters, paramedics with only some surprise. Sure there are the embarrassments like the Texas Firefighter Charged With Taking Secret Bathroom Pics who need to be drummed out of the system. And I understand that new technology can be a scary thing – especially from a legal perspective, but our reaction to any sort of potential change is always predicated by our view of the staff we employ. If staff are viewed only as automatons, they need constant micromanagement even at the most basic level. If they are viewed as professionals, they need only to understand the tools they have, the overall mission they are given, the latitude of their autonomy, and the impact of their misjudgment.

Businesses in the private sector have struggled for many years over the risk and rewards of giving employees increased access to sensitive corporate information from mobile devices. Once the technology was finally embraced, the initial result was huge expenditures for company-owned devices that quickly became outdated. As a result, many organizations have now embraced a BYOD (“Bring Your Own Device”) policy to leverage the employee’s willingness and need to provide current mobile technology for use outside of the office. While it certainly increases the workload for corporate IT professionals to support and secure these devices, it has been determined that the improved productivity, increased job satisfaction, and in some cases even lowered equipment cost outweigh the investment. The risk of exposure is still there, but when employees are properly treated as professionals they become empowered allies instead of floating liabilities. In some ways the case is much easier for EMS.

In the EMS setting, there are countless objects, many provided inside an ambulance, that can harm a patient if they are misused or mistreated. However, when they are used properly many of these same tools can mean an improved outcome for the patient or even the organization. What makes the application different in either case is an implicit trust in the knowledge of the professional in applying it properly. Recently, I have posted links on some uses of smartphones in EMS including Using an iPhone to detect ear infections. Just today another post from my paramedic friend Greg Friese shared his slide set on Integrating Smartphones and Tablet Devices into EMS Education from EMS World Expo. Another paramedic friend named Chris Matthews maintains a blog site called The Unwired Medic specifically to share useful applications of mobile technology. Whole businesses have sprung up to provide mobile applications for continuing education during downtime in the station or at a post as well as references to be used during a call. Check out the Smartphones offer valuable, versatile tool article for many more uses.

The problem isn’t allowing another new device in the EMS setting, it is in establishing the mission, boundaries, and implications of improper use of whatever that new tool might be. There are all sorts of potential problems with tools, but banning a potentially useful tool because of an employee trust issue is just a sign of deeper problems within the organization.

2 Trackbacks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

background image Blogger Img

High Performance EMS

High Performance Emergency Medical Services (HP-EMS) systems provide effective clinical care promoting positive patient outcomes and community wellness while maintaining a focus on improving economic efficiency of the system.  This site is dedicated as a community seeking to increase agency performance by promoting useful information regarding the developing trends and improvements in the efficiency of delivering basic and advanced medical care in the field.

JEMS Talk: Google Hangout

Comments
Matt Zavadsky
What Higher EMS Pay Requires
This article is spot on - the rapidly changing healthcare finance environment is a game changer for us - IF, and ONLY IF, we can prove that we bring value to the payer... Does our care make a difference in the patient's experience of care, outcome and cost of care... By assessing our patient satisfaction,…
2015-06-17 08:38:01
Steven Lichtenberg
What Higher EMS Pay Requires
The biggest issue in pay scales is one you hit on directly. Payment for service rendered is solely based on transports. Refusals/DNR/DOA etc are not reimbursed. Once Medicare determines that we are in fact medical professionals and not "ambulance drivers" and pays for care rendered we have a chance. Community paramedicine is one mechanism for…
2015-06-16 21:47:53
daleloberger
What Higher EMS Pay Requires
Thank you for making the comment, Kim. I suspect you may have missed my meaning in that statement though. The passionate folks in EMS are some of the hardest working people I know. My complaint is certainly not that "we" don't put enough into our jobs to deserve better pay, it is that we must…
2015-06-16 18:13:18
Kim
What Higher EMS Pay Requires
"Wages will change when we decide to work for them." I don't know about you but I have been busting my butt for 24 years for better wages. I continually educate myself to gain knowledge beyond my scope. My scope of practice limits what I'm allowed to do but it doesn't limit what I am…
2015-06-16 12:38:23
Kim
What Higher EMS Pay Requires
I have worked for companies that were union and companies that were non union. The pay is always the same. I have been in EMS for 24 years and I have never earned a living wage. I always have to have multiple jobs just to get by. No vacations, no credit cards and no car…
2015-06-16 12:15:12

Dale Loberger's Discussions


Follow Dale Loberger

FireEMS Blogs eNewsletter

Sign-up to receive our free monthly eNewsletter

LATEST EMS NEWS

HOT FORUM DISCUSSIONS