When the Baton Rouge EMS calls, you often have to make many life-or-death decisions quickly.
Do ambulances need to go, just to name a few? And if so, do the lights and sirens need to be on because seconds matter? What steps are required? Are there any other urgent emergencies that need to be prioritized? Is there anything the caller must do before help arrives?
As of this month, emergency medical services dispatchers have a new artificial intelligence-based system to help make important decisions like this faster and better, parish officials said.
Earlier this month, the parish’s EMS department replaced its 40-year-old dispatch system with a medical priority dispatch system. This system is software that guides dispatchers through appropriate responses to various symptoms described by callers. After the dispatcher takes notes, the artificial intelligence prompts the dispatcher with follow-up questions and recommends responses based on the caller’s answers and the information the dispatcher has entered, according to Harris.
“In short, it’s a more detailed calling system that we can use to help get an ambulance to someone faster,” Harris said.
The software uses nationally recognized standards to identify life-threatening medical emergencies and prioritize responses, according to a news release.
Dispatchers used to use cards for specific symptoms, such as chest pain, to direct dispatchers to the appropriate response based on the caller’s response, Harris said. The new software removes that extra step and automatically provides dispatcher notes to first responders heading to the scene.
Harris said the software will also help provide people in the field with instructions for life-saving procedures, such as CPR, before first responders arrive.
The software also promises to make EMS more efficient, according to Harris.
Information can be sent quickly from callers to dispatchers to first responders, enabling faster emergency response, Harris said. It also reduces the number of “lights and sirens” calls that EMS makes. That’s because the software makes it easier to analyze urgent medical needs with smaller calls, Harris said.
Dispatchers can override the system’s recommendations if they determine that a more urgent action is needed than what the software recommends, Harris said.
“Priority Dispatch benefits patients by putting the right resources in the right place at the right time,” EMS Medical Director Dr. Dan Godby wrote in a news release. We take care of the most important patients as quickly as possible while answering non-essential calls in the right and appropriate manner. ”
According to a news release, the software also analyzes calls received and responses sent by Dispatch so that EMS continues to be more efficient.