The EMS community has reacted to a recent announcement by an EMS agency in Quincy, Massachusetts to allow first responders to access Amazon’s Echo device ‘Alexa’ for procedure protocol in a hands-free way. Emergency medical service providers will now be able to use Alexa, a digital assistant, to ask questions that are in the Massachusetts Emergency Medical Services Statewide Treatment Protocol document that outlines EMS standard of care protocols. Currently the 300-page document is available in a booklet or on a laptop to enable first responders to double check things like medicine measurements. EMS providers are required to have full knowledge of the documents contents.
EMS1 Facebook fans reacted strongly to the recent announcement by the EMS agency to allow EMS providers to use Alexa as a reference when confirming procedure protocol during an ambulance transport of a patient. The EMS community disagreed about whether Alexa would be a useful technological tool or unwanted guest in the ambulance.
Many EMS providers reacted negatively to the use of Alexa to check on things like medicine measurements and expressed concern about the level of training of a responder who uses Alexa.
‘’Alexa, tell me how to lose the trust of patients and families by showing them that the internet can do my job,” wrote Julian Waters. “There is a world of difference between having a reference available and relying on prompting…” Other EMS providers said that their colleagues who use this artificial intelligence should not be in the ambulance in the first place. “If you need a box to tell you how to do your job, you need off the truck,” said Lori Richardson.
Mike Doss added an old-fashioned training session would be more effective in learning proper protocols. “How about reviewing the protocols on the way to a call if you’re unsure of a dosage or procedure or, maybe just maybe, pull out your protocol book and look it over every now and then,” he said. “Do not practice until you get it right: practice until you can’t get it wrong!”
Other EMS providers thought it would be useful to have the hands-free access to the Alexa device, and that it would not reflect poorly on the responder’s knowledge-base. The device would allow the EMS provider to continue to treat the patient in the ambulance while double checking on something, rather than stopping to look at a book or laptop. Adam Segel said “people are complaining about a hands-free way to double check the dosage of a medication that could kill the patient while they’re in the middle of trying to save their life.”
SOURCE: EMS1.com, “Should EMS providers use ‘Alexa’ as a reference in the ambulance?” by Shelbie Watts, April 6, 2018
Med Trust 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.