Rob Morris has been in the business of saving lives since he was a teenager, first as a volunteer and then as a medic in the United States Air Force. For the past 17 years Morris has worked in Queen Anne’s County, an area that is part of the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area with a population just under 50,000. Now, Morris serves as lieutenant for the county’s Department of Emergency Services.
The Queen Anne's County Department of Emergency Services is unique in that it brings together four closely tied, yet distinct, functions or divisions operating under one umbrella. The communications, emergency medical services, emergency management and office of the fire marshal functions are led by division chiefs who oversee complex organizations. They have equal rank and manage their divisions as separate operations, while at that same time enjoying a close partnership with the other chiefs, sharing ideas and resources.
Until the fall of 2009, Morris says his department relied on paper checklists for the inventory of each unit, as well as each of the five EMS station supply cabinets. Once the supply cabinets were inventoried, each item had to be hand counted and purchase orders filled out with part numbers, item name and prices. Morris says this tedious process could take up to an hour to complete.
Without the ability to quickly transfer supplies from one station to another, the department was also forced to stock all of the stations with the same amount of supplies. This inefficient system led to overstocking of certain stations and, in turn, supplies were expiring before they could be used. Despite the daily morning vehicle checks, Morris says it was impossible to ensure that each piece of equipment on the unit was available and up to date.
Morris knew the department needed a better system. He wanted a paperless process, but even more important, he wanted to increase the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the department. And with the economy stretching budgets thin, saving money was a top priority. Morris says he researched solutions and came across AmbuTrak—a Web-based inventory and asset management software designed specifically for the needs of fire-EMS departments. Now in its second year of implementation, Morris says AmbuTrak has become the department’s go-to system for asset management, supply purchasing and tracking.
AmbuTrak’s electronic checklists prompt crew members when expired items need to be replaced or if equipment needs to be inspected. The software also ensures the correct amount of equipment is in each bag and each compartment on the unit. If someone makes an error in entering the expiration date on a particular item, AmbuTrak’s reporting feature allows users to see whom and at what time a particular piece of equipment was documented. Morris says the crews can now complete a unit check in about 15 minutes versus the hour it used to take.
Morris says AmbuTrak has also single-handedly solved Queen Anne’s County’s overstocking issue. During unit checks the system automatically removes a supply from the cabinet after a unit requests it. Crews no longer have to count every item each week. AmbuTrak generates a weekly report to help determine the amount of supplies that need to be transferred to each of the stations. Then once a month, a purchase order is created and e-mailed directly to the supply company.