First responders using Zoom on rescue calls

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Rescue crews in Providence are experimenting with a new technique to keep patients and first responders safer.

The fire department has been using the app. Zoom, to connect patients on scene to doctors at Rhode Island Hospital, who can better assess the patient’s medical needs.

The idea is to cut down on unnecessary trips to the emergency room, especially during a time when ER’s are over-crowded.

“If you’re not that ill, you really don’t need to go to the hospital and possibly get [more] sick or expose yourself to illness,” said Deputy Assistant Chief, Zachariah Kenyon, the head of the EMT-Rescue division at the Providence Fire Department.

The idea of telemedicine has been on the table since before the coronavirus hit, but the pandemic has provided the department an even better opportunity to experiment with it.

“The pandemic has actually helped force us into it, if you will,” said Kenyon.

According to Providence Safety Commissioner, Steven Paré, most calls that fire or EMT crews respond to, result in a trip to the emergency room.

Paré says the department has been experimenting with Zoom for a few weeks. He hopes to continue the experimentation until all kinks are worked out.

So far the technology has provided added benefits. It helps convince patients with life-threatening injuries who don’t want to go to the hospital, otherwise.

“It’s a great tool to have a doctor talk to someone and say, ‘Hey listen, I really think you should come to the hospital,'” said Kenyon. “They tend to believe Dr. Smith more than EMT Zach,” he added.

Once connection is established, patients talk directly to the doctor, and EMT’s give them their privacy.

The department hopes to utilize the technology well beyond the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m hoping that we can kind go revolutionize and change the way [emergency medical service] is delivered in the state of Rhode Island,” said Kenyon.

(C) WLNE-TV // ABC 6  2020

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Providence, Rhode Island