East Texas Ambulances Get High Tech Facelift

When the call came in--traffic accident on the Loop and Broadway--Tim McLemore was on the way.  McLemore is a paramedic with East Texas Medical Center Emergency Medical Services.

But the call was just a test to demonstrate InMotion, a little piece of electronic equipment that has been a big help.

"It really does give us an advantage," he said.  The on-board wireless system turns any ambulance into a mobile wi-fi hotspot.  The purpose--to help patients get the medical treatment they need, and fast.

"The ultimate goal is to have continuous communication with our ambulances," said Phil Collins, information technology manager with Emergency Medical Services.

When calls initially came in, dispatchers and paramedics had to communicate using the radio.  With In-Motion, crucial patient information can be sent and received through the touch of a button.

Paramedics can more accurately pinpoint where an emergency call is on a digital map, and send important patient information directly from the scene to hospitals.  It also reports the performance of the ambulance itself

The result--precious time is saved, and potentially, more lives, also.

"There's a saying in EMS that, 'time is muscle,'" said McLemore.  "When it comes to a heart attack, [when] you cut out the time, you get a better survival rate."

The system also constantly searches and finds the best wireless signal, which helps keep the ambulance in constant communication with dispatchers.  In East Texas, a rural area, that makes a significant difference.

"We knew we had to make a change with analog shutting down," said Arnie Spiers, director of operations for Champion EMS.

Spiers said he and his team began installing the system in their fleet, Monday.   He said it was a switch he had to, and was willing to make.

It was a switch both organizations made to ultimately keep you in the best situation, in the worst situation.

Layron Livingston, Reporting.  llivingston@kltv.com