Alachua Fire Rescue Upgrades Ambulance Routers for Enhanced Patient Care

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The Alachua County Fire Rescue upgraded  the wireless routers in its ambulances. The ACFR received a grant of $41,200 from both UF Health Shands Hospital and North Florida Regional Medical Center to afford the update.
Alachua County Fire Rescue has upgraded wireless routers in its ambulances. The ACFR received a grant of $41,200 from both UF Health Shands Hospital and North Florida Regional Medical Center to afford the update.

Alachua County Fire Rescue is upgrading the wireless routers in its ambulances to enhance care for those suffering from heart failure.

After five years of using the 3G wireless routers, which lacked speed and reliability, the fire rescue upgraded its wireless routers to 4G LTE.

Previous technology was unreliable, sometimes causing an ambulance to lose connection with hospitals, according to Harold Theus, assistant fire rescue chief for Alachua County Fire Rescue.

“There were periods of time when the transmission would fail going through to the hospitals,” Theus said.

Christine Van Dillen, system director for Alachua County Fire Rescue,  said the purpose of this new technology is to transmit better snapshots of the patient’s electrocardiogram, a test that examines a patient’s heart, to the emergency room. In doing so, physicians at the hospitals can receive information on the incoming patient to see whether or not he or she has a malfunction in the heart.

Based upon the information they receive, the physicians can prepare in advance to properly treat the patient upon their arrival to the hospital. This will improve the door-to-balloon time, the interval between the patient’s arrival and the point at which they receive definitive cardiac care.

In May, Alachua Fire Rescue received about $41,200 total from the North Florida Regional Medical Center and UF Health Shands Hospital in order to afford the new wireless routers, said Mark Sexton, communications and legislative affairs director for the county.

“It’s just a wonderful, generous grant that these hospitals gave to the Alachua County Fire Rescue,” Sexton said.

Theus said both facilities decided to donate because they have vested interests in patient care throughout Alachua County. They also want to maintain their credibility and accreditation, he said.

The fire rescue started installing the new routers in its ambulances in October and are now using the new technology.

“What we have (now) is the best,”  Theus said. “There’s not a better system out there.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.

The CDC states that about 600,000 people in the U.S. die of heart disease yearly, which is one in every four deaths, and about 720,000 Americans have a heart attack annually.

“(The new device) will result in (saving) lives and better services to the citizens of Alachua County,” Sexton said.

About Billy Jean Louis

Billy Jean is a reporter for WUFT News and can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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