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Firefighters Go Digital With Patient Medical Info

Firefighters in Spokane are phasing out a reporting system in place since the late 1800’s. As of Monday the Spokane Fire Department will collect patient information digitally, instead of by pen and paper. Since 1884, the department has recorded medical info on paper for patients in medical emergencies. Now, firefighters will pull out a tablet computer and type into software called Patient Care Reporting (ePCR).

Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer explained the system in the Fire Station 1 garage.

Schaeffer: “The system all starts with data, we’ll finally be able to track real time data, quality data, and make decisions based on that data from a policy standpoint, so this is a big day for the Spokane Fire Department.”

He says the cloud-based system meets HIPAA and state requirements about protecting patient records, and complies with the Center for Disease control repository for collecting records at an incident.

Mayor David Condon says the fire department responds to about 33-thousand incidents a year, of which more than 85-percent require some medical emergency response.

Condon: “Electronic patient records make a safer city because we’re doing things in a smarter, more electronic, and 21st century way.”

The 30-thousand dollar program is funded through the city’s emergency services levy, and will cost 35-thousand dollars a year to keep running.

Copyright 2014 Spokane Public Radio