Integrating Smartphones into EMS Education

Ed's Note: Greg Friese, MS, NREMT-P, presented on "Integrating Smartphones into EMS Education" at the EMS World Expo 2012, held October 29–November 2, in New Orleans, LA. Here Greg shares his handout for the class. Note: Link to slides for this presentation available at

Key Points

  • Bans of smartphones from the classroom, lab or clinical experience are impossible to enforce and therefore ineffective
  • Not having a policy on smartphone usage in EMS education leads to missed teaching and learning opportunities
  • Smartphone ownership and use is ubiquitous and growing, especially among 18–29-year-olds
  • Mobile devices are helpful for accessing information, calculations, navigation, and communication.

Distractions in the classroom and workplace are not limited to smartphones. My top distractions are:

  1. Dogs, especially puppies
  2. Kids, especially having a temper tantrum
  3. Pizza, especially when being delivered to an adjacent classroom

What are your top distractions? I am guessing smartphones don’t make your top three either.

Minimize the impact of distractions by:

  • Engaging students with worthwhile activities and experiences
  • Delivering age, skill, and knowledge appropriate instructions
  • Providing timely and regular performance assessment
  • Granting breaks to physically and mentally re-energize

Use smartphones in education with some of these activities:

  • Create and post videos of patient assessment and treatments
  • Listen to podcasts by EMS and medical experts on topics relevant to the course
  • Use QR codes to link to skill demonstration videos and assessment sheets
  • Add QR codes to the lab drug box that link to information about each drug
  • Send text messages to a group of students to inform, remind, and assess
  • Access reference guides, protocol manuals, and ebooks
  • Track clinical skills and accomplishments
  • Share files, videos, and photos

What are other uses of smartphones in EMS education?

Participation, Polls, Links, and Contact Information

35 participants opted into a text messaging group for the presentation to receive text messages with key points texted to them every 10 minutes during the class. Participants also used their tablets and smartphones to participate in real time polling with

During the presentation participants had opportunities to vote in polls using and Here are the results:

I have used previously:

Yes: 52%

No: 48%

Does your education or training organization have a policy about student use of smartphones, tablets, or other devices?

Yes: 58%

No: 39%

Don’t know: 3%

Does your policy allow student use of smartphones, tablets, or other devices?

Yes, devices are allowed: 33%

No, devices are banned: 40%

Don’t have a policy: 28%

When did you last check your e-mail/text inbox?

Since class started: 64%

Right before class: 23%

After waking up: 8%

Yesterday: 5%

When did you last send an e-mail, text message, or status update?

Since the class started: 55%

Right before class: 13%

After waking up: 13%

Yesterday: 20%

Did you check for or send an e-mail or text message last night between 0100 and 0500?

Yes: 23%

No: 78%

I use my smartphone during EMT class or training:

Yes: 75%

No: 25%

Additional Resources

Everyday EMS Tips


Google URL shortener

Thing Link

Kaywa QR Code Generator

Paramedic Tutor 12 Lead ECG Videos

Cowley College Paramedic Program Facebook page

Slide Share

101 Las Minute Study Tips applications for EMTs and Paramedics

Limmer Creative

EMS Trivial Pursuit for Training


Greg Friese, MS, NREMT-P, is the director of education for CentreLearn Solutions, LLC. He specializes in the development, production and distribution of online education for emergency responders. Greg is a leading advocate for the use of social media by EMS agencies and training organizations. Greg is a regular conference presenter, the co-host of the EMSEduCast, the founder of the blog, marathon runner, and participant in many online EMS communities. Contact him at;;; and