Cole County EMS introduces technology to better treat pediatric patients

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JEFFERSON CITY - Starting March 1, all Cole County EMS ambulances will be equipped with better technology to help paramedics determine the proper care needed for an infant patient. 

Paramedic Larry Farley was one of the first staff members trained to use the Handtevy pediatric treatment system. 

"We've got, like, a small, like, a small ER here we take into the house, the house with us," he said. "That way we can treat the specific age patient with the staff that we take in with us."

The Handtevy system is an age-based pediatric resuscitation system that helps EMS professionals determine how much medication a child up to 13 years old needs in an emergency, based on their age and weight. 

It looks like a backpack with smaller bags inside that are color coded by age. They have what paramedics would need to provide life support to a pediatric patient. 

"That's what's about, is not having to grab a bag full of stuff and then search through that to find the right size or the right equipment," Farley said. 

The system also includes an app so paramedics can enter information about the patient to learn the best way to approach each case. 

"It would start listing the stuff that that patient needs, the size that it needs, how much do they need of this medication," Farley said. 

Cole County EMS Chief Matthew Lindewirth said each of the 13 backpacks cost about $1,500, for a total investment of about $20,000, including the necessary training of the staff. 

"It allows us to take our most precious patients, you know, the small children of Cole County, and allows us to treat them in a more efficient manner and helps reduce errors in that treatment, as well," he said.

Lindewirth said the new system would also help emergency rooms to provide the best attention for pediatric patients. 

"The more we can stabilize someone, or actually even correct what's going on with the patient, the easier it is for the emergency department," he said. "If we have a properly-treated, properly-packaged patient when we provide those to the ER, that advances that care for them, so they don't have to focus on the small things."

After EMS provide care to the patient, the app integrates into the patient care reporting system automatically, which would allow EMS personnel to evaluate the quality of their service. 

"There're times that no matter what we do bad things are going to happen," Lindewirth said. "But, did we do everything we can to try to prevent or delay that so that the pediatricians are the hospital are able to do what they need to do?"

Lindewirth said, over the next six months, the department will look into key performance indictors to make sure the treatment system is being used the right way.