A medic treating patients in the back of a medevac helicopter has his hands full, treating patients and doing math in his head to figure out doses of medication. He lets the receiving medical facility know patients are inbound, but there may not be a lot more information about what the ground medical crew can expect.
A new system the Army is developing would take the burden off medics and provide detailed information to a hospital or clinic, said Lt. Col. Christian Cook, project manager for medevac at the Army Medical Materiel Agency.
The medical data is captured by sensors, stored and sent wirelessly to the medical facility on the ground, Cook said Tuesday at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual convention.
“A medvac pilot gets called out on an urgent request, we get out there and undoubtedly load up more than one patient, abilateral amputee or a sucking chest wound. How do we let the receivng medical facility know what‘s coming?” he noted.
The system is Medical Hands-free Ultra Wideband Broadcast, or MEDHUB, which captures medical data through a wireless connection and transmits over the Army tactical networks.
It uses devices approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the Army is leveraging equipment that already exists, said Jay Wang, product manager for transport telemedicine systems at the Army Medical Materiel Agency.
“This hasn’t been done before,” Wang said.
Retired Sgt. 1st Class Jeffery Jones, who was also participating in the AUSA presentation, added: “From Vietnam to now, things haven’t changed.”
“A paramedic makes the call from the back of a helicopter, sometimes pilots or a crew chief make the call, or you’re task-saturated, and you say we’re three minutes out with three patients,” he said. “I have to retain information from all one to six patients.”
At the end of the day, the medic writes up patient care reports. MEDHUB spares the medic from that task.
“Administration is one of the biggest obnoxious things we have to deal with,” Wang said. The system “takes off the tedious workload medics have.”
At the end of his duty, he can take a tablet device to the hospital and provide the work flow he has done on each patient.
Medics would use a vital signs monitor, pulse oximeter, oxygen monitor, blood pressure cuff and other equipment with the sensor kit, which notes if patients are ambulatory or need emergency treatment.
The system also relieves medics from having to guess a patient’s weight to calculate doses of medication.
Another vital piece of information is the medevac’s estimated time of arrival, based on a blue force tracker and GPS data.
The system is in the final concept stages, then the plan is to take it into test and evalution, Wang said.