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Ambulance Service Gets Advanced Equipment

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Rural/Metro Medical Services is upgrading equipment and technology to speed care and improve chances of survival in cardiac cases.

The $3 million investment by the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based company, which provides ambulance services in Western New York, will include electronic patient care reports to increase accuracy and streamline data collection.

The most visible change involves new monitor-defibrillators that provide electrocardiograms.

The software and hardware improvements in computer-aided dispatch will allow transmitting information to Rural/Metro's communications center on the East Side, which will relay it over a dedicated fax line to a hospital's emergency department. The hospital then can alert its teams and bypass the emergency room if necessary to send the patient directly to a specialist.

"The EKG allows us to make a diagnosis before the patient even gets here and mobilize the system. That is a clear-cut patient advantage," said Dr. Robert McCormack, chief of emergency medicine for Kaleida Health.

Time, in this case, is of the essence, McCormack said.

"In the case where you are having a heart attack, the longer you wait, the more of your heart muscle that dies."

McCormack said information gleaned from the upgraded technology also can help select the most appropriate hospital for the patient.

"It can route them to the correct hospital that can do invasive cardiac care and speed up their treatment, which overall will improve their outcome," McCormack said.

Rural/Metro says the electronic patient care reports will eliminate illegible or incomplete entries, boosting the accuracy of patient data and diagnosis.

Paramedics will save time because, in many cases, they would not have to ask about the patient's medical history, since many cardiac patients have suffered episodes in the past, McCormack said.

e-mail: msommer@buffnews.com

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