After their initial certification, Emergency Medical Service clinicians must keep current with up-to-date protocols, laws, advisories, memos, and notices issued by licensing and regulatory agencies. EMTS, AEMTS, first responders, and paramedics cannot medically treat patients or dispense pharmacology unless they know and follow the protocols. Protocols are typically hundreds of pages long with extremely detailed steps. Ambulance attendants, already working in tight quarters and under stressful conditions, are also often called to urgent need situations where accessing the documents on board is a challenge, let alone remembering every protocol step for any possible medical emergency they might encounter. We’ve written before about ambulances in Argentina that use WhatsApp for directions to the closest hospital with suitable facilities for varied medical needs.
Weymouth, Massachusetts-based Brewster Ambulance Service serves cities and hospitals in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Brewster embarked on a pilot project this year to test using the Amazon Echo voice assistant Alexa to assist ambulance attendants by reciting appropriate protocol steps when asked. Massachusetts requires that all first responders are up to date with the EMS Statewide Treatment Protocols, Emergency Statewide Treatment Protocol Updates, Required Medications on Ambulances, and a single document that contains all Advisories, Memos, and Notices. The state publishes the full set of protocol documentation each year. Brewster hired an outside firm to program a custom Alexa skill in Wifi-enabled ambulances. State regulators are OK with the project concept because the Alexa skill converts approved protocol text to speech. If all goes well, the first Amazon Echo Dot will be installed in two Brewster ambulances in July for the initial pilot stage. If the Alexa ambulance pilot is successful Brewster will expand the program in stages.
Brewster’s primary goals for the Alexa ambulance voice assist program are to improved patient care. The company hopes successful implementation will expedite patient treatment, reinforce protocol accuracy, and allow clinicians to focus both hands and eyes on the patients rather than thumbing through thick protocol manuals. Ideally, if the crew knows the patient’s problem while en route, they’ll be able to ask Alexa to read through the protocols while in transit to the patient.