The Emergency Medical Service (EMS) is a student managed volunteer organization at Carnegie Mellon University that works closely with the campus police dispatch to provide emergency medical services to students within the Carnegie Mellon University vicinity. Over the course of 4 weeks, I worked on a team with Christina Brant and Wang Liang to research the domain and design a concept for an information system that would fit the needs of the medical response teams.
- Learn about the domain, systems, and protocols currently in place
- Determine breakdowns in the system
- Design an information system that would alleviate problem areas when needed
We set up 7 different contextual interviews with police officers and EMS team members see how they handled emergency medical calls and find breakdowns in their process. During these interviews, we were able to listen in on recorded phone and radio communications and have team members describe the situations and problems in detail.
The radio plays a key role in their communication workflow because it allows for hands-free access to information and multi-tasking. It is the standard protocol to use for communicating brief messages among team members and across agencies such as police dispatch and the city’s EMT service.
However, breakdowns occurred when dealing with situations that deviated from their standard communication protocol, such as relaying confidential information, transmitting long messages, or when the radio is overloaded with chatter.
Based on our interviews, we found that looking up patient information tended to be very time-critical, but required much more time than other tasks due to the need to request information, look it up, and send it back to the medical member in the field. The process became repetitive when consulting with an on call doctor.
We designed Brief as a two-part solution. Medical members would use a velcro sleeve to turn their phone into a wearable device while in the field. An app runs on their phone and connects as a client to a dashboard managed by the Crew Chief.
As calls would come in, the Crew Chief would dispatch the team through the dashboard and be able to push relevant information to them such as the original call information and student health records. If needed, calling a doctor and forwarding her patient information would just be a tap away.
While Brief was a concept, the ideas here hint at a system that could reduce human error and open up a whole new line of communication that extends the capabilities of the age-old radio. By providing contextual information in a timely manner, this system coud possibly save lives.
The following depicts a potential situation in which Brief would be able to make an impact on a medical member’s duties.