Baton Rouges Launches EMS Telemedicine Program

On March 13, 2009, the City of Baton Rouge (BR), Louisiana initiated its state-of-the-art "BR Med-Connect" EMS Telemedicine program with an inauguration event attended by the Mayor, East Baton Rouge Parish EMS Personnel, and physicians and administrators from Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. BR Med-Connect will provide 2-way voice, video and data that will link paramedics in the field with physicians at the hospital to allow the physicians to see and speak with patients and review vital signs data, including 12-Lead ECGs.

Prior to full deployment throughout the entire BR EMS system, the program's pilot phase has one BR EMS ambulance and the ED in Our Lady of the Lake Hospital fully equipped and operational. This ambulance will be used to test and refine the system, examine applications, and develop user-protocols. Once the pilot phase is complete, BR Med-Connect will be expanded to include Baton Rouge General Medical Center, Oshner's Hospital, Lane Memorial Hospital, Woman's Hospital, and Earl K. Long Hospital.

When used in the downtown area of the city, BR Med-Connect will rely on an existing "mesh" broadband wireless system. The mesh system, with its ability to send information at data rates exceeding 1 mb/s, is capable of supporting high-quality video as well as all other functions, including the sending of 12-lead ECGs. Outside the mesh area, the system will use 3G EVDO Cellular. This will allow its use over most of the Parish's 462 sq. miles. Because the EVDO system has a lower data capacity, video quality may be reduced. The city is now developing a plan to deploy the mesh system throughout the entire Parish. BR Med-Connect uses a General Devices' e-Bridge EMS Telemedicine System, with its Rosetta-VC in the ambulance and its CAREpoint EMS Workstation in the hospital's Emergency Department.

BR Med-Connect will be used to meet a wide range of prehospital care needs, including STEMI programs, early stroke assessment, trauma and pediatric care, as well as many day-to-day EMS and disaster-related applications. In addition to the remote physician-controlled video and extensive data handling capabilities, a unique feature of the system includes the ability to send the 12-lead ECG from different monitors along with complete patient identification. The system will also be used to link the Parish hospital's EMS workstations together to better coordinate patient transfers and meet disaster-related needs.

The project manager for BR Med-Connect, Mr. Chad Guillot, says: "This is a very exciting time for our department. The General Devices products will allow us to accomplish a new level of collaboration with all of our area hospitals and will strengthen the teamwork that exists between our paramedics and physicians. The e-Bridge System is a powerful tool with one of its strongest feature being its ease of use. This is very important to us as it allows our paramedics to send useful video and data to physicians without interfering with critical patient care."

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