Healthcare is a field in which teamwork is crucial, and the work involved in emergency medical services (EMS) demonstrates that. Miscommunications, misunderstandings, and lack of coordination have greater consequences for EMS organizations than they do for most conventional jobs in other types of work environments. Short delays or redundancies in emergency healthcare delivery can sometimes spell the difference between life and death for a patient—and between the two, there’s no question as to which outcome an EMS provider would prefer.
But how can EMS providers increase cooperation between team members? What are the best ways to get staff to work like a well-oiled machine when they’re in the business of saving lives? To answer that, here are four ideas for improving coordination between EMS personnel to achieve better patient outcomes. Hopefully, these ideas will serve as good takeaways for your own EMS organization.
Upgrade to a Dedicated EMS Computer Aided Dispatch System
One concrete way that you can improve the coordination among your EMS staff is to invest in technology, like an emergency dispatch software. Also known as computer-aided dispatch (CAD), this system can keep dispatchers, paramedics, ambulance staff, and onsite medical personnel synced up, which helps them resolve complex situations together in real-time.
Michigan-based developer Traumasoft, for example, has an EMS solution that enables responders to visualize all incoming calls, call types, the unit hour utilization of vehicles, and any obstacles that might get in the way of timely response (such as traffic or road collisions). The software can also automatically send alerts as well as flag conflicts or duplications in shift schedules, which allows staff to resolve these in a timely manner.
The shift to using an emergency dispatch software instead of a manual dispatch system will ultimately allow your department to make the best use of its ambulance resources and to efficiently delegate tasks to responders. It can also prevent your staff from getting overwhelmed and, therefore, keep patient care as consistent and as high quality as possible.
Increase Efficiency in the Triage Area
Triage area became a highlight because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and is another point of improvement that’s worth exploring. At particularly busy times, the EMS organization must be extra conscious about the decision-making of its staff and the fast, accurate turnover of patients for further medical care.
In many sports, teams do best when people play particular roles that are assigned to them. For example, in soccer, the roles are defined for strikers, midfielders, defenders, and goalkeepers. The same principle can be applied for better cooperation in your triage area. You can assign individuals to take care of ambulance arrival, clinical assessment, or liaison with other units. That way, personnel won’t waste time doing each other’s jobs or trying to fill a vacuum. Knowing what exact tasks are assigned to them at triage, plus who they can entrust with other duties, will also allow them to be calmer and more levelheaded when things get hectic.
Keep a Standard for Collecting, Compiling, and Processing Emergency Patient Data
It’s also important for your staff to be cooperative when it comes to keeping records of your emergency patients. Everyone needs to be up to date and have the same working knowledge when it comes to a current patient’s medical history, the particulars of the call that brought them to the emergency department, and the services administered there.
The emergency patient data that your staff has on-hand is crucial to determining the kind of medical care the patient will need and the bills that they will have to pay. Any error or delay in entry can be costly to resolve. As such, you must ensure that the sense of cooperation you want to cultivate in your organization extends to your staff’s record-keeping practices.
Hold Communication Training for Your EMS Organization
Once every quarter or so, it may benefit to hold communication training for personnel in your organization. Give them the opportunity to practice their duties and identify communication issues that may be getting in the way of the team’s performance.
For example, for those that doesn’t have an effective EMS dispatch software or management software, communication is a game of telephone. Critical information gathered at the scene can be unavailable or incorrect by the time the patient reaches the hospital. That is why you need a communications training – so barriers of communication can be smothered or eliminated. Your training sessions can help your staff standardize their communication protocols and pick up on each other’s cues more quickly.
When rolling out these ideas, it will be good to inform everyone on what a cooperative work environment can do for the EMS organization as a whole. Enhanced cooperation will allow each of the staff to do the most they possibly can at the point of contact with the patient. It will also ease the burden on their colleagues when responsibility of the patient falls on them.
If your personnel can entrust themselves—and each other—to imbibe this belief, you will be able to continue doing the work that society praises you for. Synchronize your staff and uphold cooperation as one of your department’s most sacred values.