St. Luke’s upgrades EMS communications
In the world of first responders, clear, seamless communication in an emergency is vital, and often critical.
Calls from an EMT or paramedic in the field to alert a hospital ER physician about an incoming patient give the emergency room clinical teams time to mobilize resources based on the patient’s condition (heart attack, stroke, traumatic injury, isolation requirements, etc.).
Recognizing the importance of using the most modern EMS radio equipment and infrastructure, St. Luke’s recently completed an extensive overhaul of its communication hardware and software. This improvement ushered in the digital, state-of-the-art technology that ensures clarity, consistency and reliability of communication are maintained among EMS, police, county 911 centers and hospital emergency rooms.
The centerpiece of this new system is the CAREpoint ED to EMS Workstation installed at every St. Luke’s emergency room. These state-of-the-art units feature multiple functions, including several in- and outbound voice communication lines, EKG transmission capability, fax lines, expansion capabilities for video and short messaging and direct connection with the regional 911 communication centers. All of these multi-directional interactions are recorded and reviewed later for process improvement, training purposes and quality.
“This upgrade to the 21st-century communication platform at St. Luke’s means bad connections, dropped calls and general communication difficulties are much less likely to occur now,” said Adam Maziuk, Director of Business Development and Strategy for SLUHN.
“When time matters, you want the highest quality incoming and outgoing communication. During an emergency, access to an emergency room physician is vital, especially if the emergency involves a stroke, heart attack, and/or traumatic injury,” Maziuk said.
This transformation was phased in over six months, went live in April and cost the network $100,000. It included replacing the copper wire coming into the network with high-speed fiber optic cable and upgrading the existing CAREpoint communications stations with the most up-to-date software and security features. Now calls in and outbound are of the highest quality, whether they involve the regional 911 communication centers, calls from the EMTs and/or paramedics in the field, or from one hospital ER to another.
“We have had some awesome results with the new system,” Maziuk said. “It has put us ahead of the technology curve, enhanced our customer service capability, and improved access to our emergency room physicians for our regional EMS teams in the field.”
An on-scene EMS provider has the flexibility to contact a St. Luke’s emergency room via the method of the clinician’s choice and/or the clinical setting. Should they choose a cell phone, ambulance radio or direct radio patch with EMS, the goal is to make access to St. Luke’s ER services easy, secure and convenient when a paramedic or EMT is delivering hands-on care.
“Providing reliable communication from the field to a medical command physician in the ER can have life-saving implications. This new technology brings the field, communications centers, and the hospital closer, all for the benefit of our patients,” Maziuk said. “And our first responders agree.”
“The recent upgrade that added the option to contact St. Luke’s University Hospital Network – Bethlehem Campus through the Lehigh County 911 Radio System has been very valuable to our organization,” said Matt Markle, Operations Director, Upper Saucon Ambulance Corps. “The ability to have communications readily available by using our native radio system allows us to spend more time focusing on patient care and other urgent tasks. This option also provides our communication network with an additional layer of redundancy, which, in times of high volumes and system stress, can provide a huge benefit. We appreciate having a partner like St. Luke’s who is willing to support our mission wherever possible.”