In 2002, Medic was experiencing substantial growth in call volume. (Call volume for the EMS agency, based in Charlotte, N.C., is up 230% since 1996.) The data entry and reporting for this increased load posed significant challenges for field personnel and support staff. At the same time, our agency leaders were also interested in having the ability to capture and analyze various data points with the intent of driving improvement in patient care and service delivery.

After exhaustive research, we chose the Siren ePCR software program by Medusa Medical Technologies to meet these needs. The product had the feature set, scalability and customization capabilities that our leadership team was seeking. However, choosing the software program turned out to be the easiest part of the process. Implementing this new tool in the field was where the real challenges were.

“When you have a staff of more than 200 paramedics who have been doing something the old-fashioned way for 20 years, it can be difficult to get them to embrace this type of change,” says Steven Ward, electronic documentation coordinator for Medic. “Not only did we have to work through the technical challenges associated with deploying this new application in a mobile wireless environment, but we also needed to get our field staff to buy into the importance of using something outside of their comfort zone; this was no small task.”

With Oct. 1, 2004, targeted as a launch date, the implementation team got to work: They needed to customize the software, build a platform to house the program and all of its data, choose hardware for the field, outfit the agency’s sizeable fleet with the wireless technology that would communicate with the software, and train all of the agency’s field and support staff.

The project was far more complex than anyone ever thought it would be. We were pioneering new ground and asking this system to do things that had never been done before. We learned, adapted, experimented and persevered. It was an arduous process, but one that was completely worthwhile.

We went totally paperless in April 2005 and haven’t had a single paper PCR since. The road was a bit bumpy at firs t; but everyone has thoroughly embraced the transition away from paper. We recently launched version 3.07 of the Siren ePCR program. It was a very smooth upgrade, aided by the agency’s extensive testing to simulate up to 58 simultaneous users. This type of adaptation has helped us fully utilize this robust software program, leveraging it for all of its value.