SA to turn ambulances into remote offices

Mobile data terminals will give SA ambulances direct mobile access to an emergency operations centre, computer-aided dispatch and various e-health systems

South Australian ambulances will be able to tap directly into emergency response and medical information systems via a high-speed mobile broadband network under a new project flagged by the state government.

The Ambulance Mobile Connect (AMC) project will equip the SA Ambulance Service metropolitan and regional fleet vehicles with mobile data terminals (MDTs) allowing them to connect to SA Ambulance’s emergency operations centre, computer-aided dispatch system, and business information systems that support the delivery of clinical care by paramedics.

Paramedics will also have access to in-vehicle applications such as incident dispatch and mapping functions tightly integrated with a new South Australia Computer Aided Dispatch (SACAD) system. The SACAD gives paramedics real-time access to details of emergency incidents and related information, removing the reliance on time-consuming voice communications.

The AMC is part of three projects aimed at better improving communications between ambulances at the department's headquarters and remote access to major systems needed to carry out paramedic work in the field.

The other two projects include an automatic vehicle location system, which has been completed, and an electronic patient record, which is yet to receive funding.

Emergency services of all stripes are becoming increasingly reliant on mobile communications for the carrying out of policing, health services, firefighting, rescue, and other emergency-based services.

The increasing availability of high speed wireless data networks and mobile computing devices spurred the Queensland Government in July to expand its application of mobile data systems for its emergency services agencies.

However the reliance on technology has resulted in some far from smooth sailing. In February the Ambulance Service of NSW experienced a virus in its computer aided dispatch system, effectively shutting it down.

In April last year paramedics were debating the benefits of an electronic Patient Care Record (ePCR) system aimed at replacing paper-based notes across Australia. Increasing frustration from paramedics over a Victorian-developed electronic system ultimately led to a report from the state's auditor on the issue.

Follow Tim Lohman on Twitter: @tlohman

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Tags South Australia Ambulance Servicemobilitye-healthgovernmentSouth Australian Government

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