Emergency Response: Communication Solutions to Keep Your Team Connected

Patient care and responder safety are your top priorities.

No matter what kind of emergency you’re responding to, there are two critical factors you’ve got to control: response time and communications. Because every second you save or spend can impact patient outcomes during the golden hour.

And your ability to respond quickly — and safely — is directly linked to your ability to communicate. To collaborate, to get answers and to deliver vitals.

But how do you make sure that despite all the unknowns — response location, on-site conditions and connectivity — you’re still able to communicate efficiently? Choosing the right wireless technology can help you achieve your goals by helping you stay connected. The choices you make now can help you make smarter decisions in the field so you can deliver the best patient care possible every day.

From network and communication solutions designed for first responders to smart devices engineered for rough duty, there are a few easy actions you can take to make sure you’re on the road to a successful response.

Efficiency matters: EMS professionals handle an estimated 37 million calls every year, with an average response time of 7 minutes per call.1 Every second counts for every response.

Action 1: Stay connected and in control.

A major emergency situation at a large event such as a concert or festival can introduce a variety of issues for your first responders. One potential obstacle that’s often overlooked is the heavy data traffic produced by the attendees at such events. Video, chats and social posts made by users in a small area can put increased pressure on local networks. If a disaster or emergency occurs, first responders’ data could get caught up or slowed down.

Public safety solutions like Data Priority for First Responders provide your team with an open lane of communication when crowded networks might otherwise slow you down. Data Priority for First Responders pulls your mission-critical data to the front of the line, ahead of other data. When necessary, data preemption temporarily reallocates or removes other data from the network entirely, putting your data first. These solutions reduce data transfer delays and help you provide assistance with greater efficiency and increased situational awareness.

When voice communication is also a priority, choosing a provider that offers access to wireless priority service (WPS) can be crucial. WPS for first responders ensures that voice communications from your first responders are moved ahead of regular calls when networks are overly crowded. Access to this service provides peace of mind that you’ll be able to connect when it matters most.

Everyday mobile data usage has risen 222% in the last 5 years.2

6,732,546 hurricane-related tweets were made during Hurricane Harvey.3

Action 2: Handle the unexpected.

Every day, your job is different. From the types of calls you handle to the places your responses take you, the only thing you can expect is the unexpected. Choosing communication solutions that deliver reliability and consistency can help you deliver your best response no matter what you’re facing.

Emergencies can occur anywhere. And when your first responders cover miles that span from the city to the countryside, responses are likely to take you to remote areas that aren’t covered by some carriers. Choose a network that offers reliable coverage wherever your EMS teams need it, so they can communicate in real time, stay safe and get the job done.

Your equipment needs to stand up to the unexpected, too. Vehicle area networks (VANs) can keep your devices — including defibrillators, laptops, printers, smart devices and more — connected inside and outside of your vehicle, turning your ambulance into a mobile office, so your team can operate efficiently in the field with the same connectivity they get at the station or hospital. Rugged devices are another equipment investment that pays off — literally — with organizations achieving ROI in less than one year on Smartphones and Tablets built to last longer.4

When you’re up against a crisis, the amount of information you need to do your job can also be unexpected. Smartphones, Tablets and routers can all consume large quantities of data as you utilize apps, maps and connections. Unlimited data plans for first responders can eliminate unexpected overages and simplify data management.

Reliability is the #1 quality on EMS technology wish lists.5

Action 3: Protect your data – and your peace of mind.

No matter which communication solutions your team relies on, you can maximize their benefits by focusing on the data security and customer support that come with them. Since a lapse in either can result in lost time and added distraction, these elements can make a big difference.

Your team deals with sensitive patient information every day, so data security has to be a top priority. Cyber threats and unauthorized access to sensitive data are real and constant concerns to EMS teams all over the country. One municipality recently paid out $460,000 in cryptocurrency to hackers.6 In another case, a hacker compromised over 40,000 patient records.7 Private network and private static IP services with encrypted tunnels are essential in your efforts to protect your patients’ privacy during data transfer and storage. To protect data in the field should a device get lost or stolen, a mobile device management (MDM) solution allows you to lock or wipe the device before information can be compromised. These solutions reduce risk by giving you greater control over your data assets.

The support of your technology partner in choosing, implementing and using your public safety solutions is equally important. Local Business Solutions Experts who know you, and who are invested in the same communities you cover, can answer questions faster. The right partner will have knowledge of what first responders need, so they can offer better suggestions and help you to feel more comfortable and more prepared during a crisis.

44% of local governments experience cyberattacks at least daily.8

Conclusion

Today’s solutions prepare you for tomorrow. When considering a network to support your EMS team, you need resources that can help you navigate any emergency. Beyond the wireless solutions and data plans available to aid your team today, the evolution of 5G is making new innovations possible tomorrow.

5G will offer lightning-fast speeds, virtually eliminate lag time, and offer connectivity for thousands of your devices. This combination of benefits will allow the support of telemedicine applications like enhanced, on-scene video conferencing with medical specialists, “super ambulances” that carry CT and X-ray machines, and transfer of high-definition video of patient injuries or illnesses in seconds. Ultimately, 5G is paving the way for a technological revolution which can improve patient outcomes and responder safety.

A partner in wireless communications that can provide access to reliable technology today, new technology in the future, and the training and support to help you navigate it all will bring your team the tools and peace of mind to provide their best response no matter where the call takes them.

U.S. Cellular® can work with you to customize a solution that helps you deliver your best response. We offer trusted wireless solutions backed by personalized local support, and a powerful network in the city and beyond. And we’re already building your next-generation 5G network, so you can stay connected when and where it matters most — in the center of town and beyond, in the places people live, work and play.

Questions?

To learn more about which solutions are right for your EMS teams, call 866-616-5587 or click below to schedule a call with a Business Solutions Expert.

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References

  1. Alvarado, Sara. “What is the Average Response Time for Emergency Medical Services?” Medical News Bulletin, 2017. https://medicalnewsbulletin.com/response-time-emergency-medical-services/
  2. Mobile vs. Desktop Usage (Latest 2019 Data)." Broadbandsearch.net, 2019. https://www.broadbandsearch.net/blog/mobile-desktop-internet-usage-statistics
  3. Alam, Firoj et al. “A Twitter Tale of Three Hurricanes: Harvey, Irma, and Maria.” ISCRAM, 2018. https://arxiv.org/pdf/1805.05144.pdf
  4. Panasonic Business. “Panasonic Executive Summary: Pay Now, Save Later.” 2017. https://img03.en25.com/Web/PanasonicManufacturingUKLtd/%7B68b185c0-ad9a-49e2-80e0-6646634fd26f%7D_IDC_Whitepaper_EN.pdf
  5. Dawkins, Shaneé, et al. “Voices of First Responders — Examining Public Safety Communication Problems and Requested Functionality.” Phase 1, Volume 2.1. NIST, 2019. https://www.nist.gov/sites/default/files/documents/2019/04/01/nist.ir_.8245.pdf
  6. Fernandez, Manny, et al. “Ransomware Attacks Are Testing Resolve of Cities Across America.” The New York Times, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/22/us/ransomware-attacks-hacking.html
  7. Davis, Jessica. “Pasquotank-Camden EMS Hacking Incident Impacts 40,000 Patients.” Health IT Security, 2019. https://healthitsecurity.com/news/pasquotank-camden-ems-hacking-incident-impacts-40000-patients
  8. ICMA. “Cybersecurity 2016 Survey.” 2016. https://icma.org/sites/default/files/309075_2016%20cybersecurity%20survey_summary%20report_final.pdf