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System Profile: Littleton Fire Rescue

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It’s finally happened! After 20 years of two other electronic patient care reporting (ePCR) systems, we believe we got it right this time at Littleton (Colo.) Fire Rescue (LFR). There’s peace between the administrators and end users, everyone loves the new ePCR system, and there’s happiness with one of the essential fire department tools that gets used every day.

LFR introduced the first paramedics in the state of Colorado in 1974 and is one of the earlier fire-based EMS systems in the country. It has 125 crossed-trained, dual-role paramedic and EMT firefighters who run about 12,000 incidents a year out of eight stations. We’ve traditionally been at the forefront of new technology, having the first motorized fire truck in Colorado, being the first in the state to use the Physio-Control LIFEPAK 12 monitor, using the first electric cots, having the first portable ultrasound units in ambulances and being earlier adopters of ePCR.

But despite our history of being technological pioneers, the road to ePCR happiness hasn’t always been rosy. It was often bumpy and painful and definitely expensive.

The first system, in the mid 1980s, was the dream of any computer programmer. There were no disks, no manuals and no IT department to back it up. But when the system crashed, miserable first responders went back to writing reports in triplicate as they had done in the earlier years. There was little data in and no data out.

A replacement system went in service in 2000. It was an answer to the Y2K countdown with the latest and greatest remedies for data management. But within a few months, it was apparent that what was promised wasn’t delivered and the fire department quickly lost confidence in it. During the frequent system failures, users had to recreate reports, leaving frustrated managers with no answers. Replacement became a necessity, and the costly joke was on us. Again!

After years of budget requests, stakeholder meetings, needs assessment questionnaires and company visits, LFR has purchased the ideal system to meet the needs of our customers, both internal and external. The new ePCR system from High Plains went on line in August 2008 and offers simple reports for a perfect EMS and fire reporting world. The software solution, designed by firefighters and paramedics, minimizes the time and effort necessary to accurately document patient care encounters and fire incidents while collecting vital data needed to meet local, state and federal requirements.

"Other than uploading EKGs, my reports are usually done by the time I’m backing into the station," boasts Paramedic Lieutenant John Schefcik, a 32-year veteran of LFR’s Fire/EMS system.

Additionally, with the fire module, training module and others, we have a comprehensive system for planning, delivering and improving service to our community—which is what matters most at the end of the day.

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