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Here in Columbus, America’s 14th largest city, we are always looking for opportunities to improve and upgrade our public safety capabilities. It is all with an eye toward a safer, better-served community.
Technology has enabled first responders to operate much more safely and efficiently, as well as to save more lives and property than in years past. The examples are countless.
Two tools we are using that directly impact the residents we serve are our Mobile Stroke Unit and the PulsePoint network app. In emergency medical response, every second counts. These tools broaden our emergency response capabilities and help us get lifesaving care to those in need more quickly.
Columbus is one of just 15 cities in the U.S. to have a Mobile Stroke Treatment Unit (MSTU). When a call is placed to 911 with a description that fits the symptoms of a stroke, the Columbus Division of Fire dispatches the MSTU, along with an engine, medic, and an EMS supervisor.
An onboard CT scan, critical for implementing the proper treatment on scene, allows the medics and remote physicians to distinguish between a blood clot and a ruptured blood vessel. Strokes that are caused by blood clots that cut off circulation to the brain are treated with a clot-busting medicine called tPA. The system can provide a complete neurological examination that’s accessible via a video-conferencing system. A stroke-trained vascular neurologist virtually supports the MSTU team via a health monitor screen inside the medic unit. This includes speaking to the patient, monitoring the patient’s assessment, and directing patient care.
"These tools broaden our emergency response capabilities and help us get lifesaving care to those in need more quickly"
That ability to make on-scene evaluations and care decisions is key to saving time and brain function of a stroke patient. The average time of the MSTU’s arrival on the scene to tPA treatment is 25 minutes. The industry time metric for patient arrival at the hospital to tPA is nearly 60 minutes. The MSTU removes the transport time and transfer of care time from the equation.
PulsePoint expands our network of first responders to include everyday citizens. It allows CPR-trained civilians to register and receive alerts about nearby medical crises. Those volunteers can be notified if someone in their vicinity has called 911 for a possible cardiac arrest.
As EMS crews make their way to the scene, these volunteers can be there, providing life-saving aid. The PulsePoint network also allows the registration and mapping of Automatic External Defibrillators, as verified by our Columbus Fire personnel. AED’s have become commonplace in offices, grocery stores, banks, and sporting venues. PulsePoint will direct responding volunteers to the AED nearest them. That kind of rapid intervention can and has saved lives. One recent example in Columbus involved a man leaving a restaurant while another patron suffered cardiac arrest. PulsePoint alerted the volunteer of the emergency nearby. He returned to the restaurant, performed CPR, and saved the life of a stranger.
Columbus currently has approximately 31,300 PulsePoint subscribers, and we are actively encouraging more residents to enroll, utilizing technology and the great people of our city to expand our network of first responders.
In Columbus, we pride ourselves on providing the best training and tools for our public safety forces. To best serve our community, we must also be open to the advantages and efficiencies of technology. This is what it takes to be a 21st Century public safety provider.