30 Aug Body-Worn Cameras for EMS: 5 Issues Leaders Must Consider
The advent of increased violence against EMS providers by patients, caregivers or bystanders have lead EMS leaders to seriously consider the use of body-worn cameras (BWCs). Since the officer-involved shooting death in Ferguson, Missouri many law enforcement agencies adopted their use. The EMS community is examining the benefits of body-worn cameras to help document an incident, including the following five key issues:
BWCs video footage provide accurate reporting and documentation of an incident.
The public is involved in recording video of EMS while they are providing care in the home, on the street or in the ambulance. EMS personnel are able to capture their point of view with a BWC while treating a patient.
“For any responder who responds to a thousand or 10,000 calls in the course of a year, documentation isn’t always good enough to refresh the recollection to be able to answer questions about it,” said David Givot, an EMS defense attorney in an article for EMS1.com. “For example, let’s say you go on a hundred chest pains in a couple-month period of time. It’s not hard to conceive that someone might remember the facts about one patient and assign them to another patient. When you have a video and audio recording of it, there’s no mistaking it—there’s not misremembering.”
BWCs video is a useful training tool.
Training personnel or medical directors have the benefit of reviewing the video and seeing what actually happened, rather than merely reading a patient report. The EMS community may be better able to learn from each other, by watching their responses to particularly complex calls.
HIPPA and other information Security Issues must be assured.
HIPPA requires that all electronic transmission of private medical records be tightly protected. Every EMS organization must have policies in place to ensure this type of protection from improper use or release. “The biggest problem is implementing and creating a system where the images and the audio are so thoroughly encrypted and protected that they can’t possibly get out,” Givot said to EMS1.com. “If that mechanism is not in place, then this really good tool can end up being really dangerous.”
Policies to activate videos must be in place before their use.
The EMS agencies must develop policy determining when cameras should be worn, by whom and whether EMS providers on the scene have discretion not to activate them, Givot said.
The cost and complexity of data storage of video content must be factored in.
EMS leaders must not only consider the purchase costs of BWCs for their agencies, but also repair, replacement and storage costs of the data collected.
MedTrust Transport provides emergent and non-emergent ambulance services in Charleston, Myrtle Beach and Georgetown, South Carolina. We have trained EMT personnel and a fleet of fully-equipped ambulances. We aim to provide compassionate and timely patient care.