In September 2023, the Murray County Ambulance became the first ambulance agency in Minnesota to implement Avel eCare EMS technology in their rig, utilizing grant funding from Southwest Minnesota EMS. Murray County Ambulance EMT, Nichole Gunnink, offers the following insights from the first few months of implementing the pilot program.
Now that we are in the winter months in Minnesota, it is even more crucial that we have all the help in the back of the rig that we can. Icy snow packed roads don’t make the commute as fast as we would like. To have an extra set of eyes on our patient and more perspective on other things that we could do to make the patient as comfortable and give them the best care that we can is always nice. Another thing about the staff at Avel is they always tell you how good of a job you are doing, and they give you the encouragement that we don’t always get during particularly high intensity situations. They let you know that you aren’t alone in that situation and just really give you the motivation that you might need on critical calls.
Murray County Ambulance is currently in the process of piloting something new with Avel. That is really going to change everything for us and be so important to us in the field. Currently, we can’t take the iPad out of the rig because it needs to stay connected to its base that is mounted in the back of the ambulance. We were chosen to be part of tests to take the iPad out of the ambulance and with us when we go into the house, or wherever the scene is at. That way, the Avel staff can see what we see before we get into the ambulance with the patient. Currently, we can only talk to the staff on the phone and explain what we see. This will also help us with the documentation on everything that is happening, just in case we forget to write something down. This is another huge thing for not only us but Avel as well. It is nice that this is something they want us to help them pilot, but there is a lot of testing with this new step. We need to test the connection with the iPad away from the ambulance, as that is where our Wi-Fi is housed for the Avel iPad. There are six different scenarios that we must go through with the IT department at Avel. This will be a work in progress, but it is such an exciting next step for us as well as Avel.
If we don’t call Avel when we are on a call or if we don’t get a call within a week, we do a test call. We will call the number for Avel and tell them we need to make a test call just to make sure everything is working, so that when we do need them, we know it is working. If we notice that something isn't working or there is a glitch with anything, we make sure to get a hold of the IT department at Avel to remedy the issue, so we don't interfere with the care of the patient.
When we initially call the Avel number, someone will answer the phone and we tell them who we are and what service we are from, before telling them the initial page that we got and how long until we are on scene, if calling prior to arrival. The staff at Avel are encouraging us to call before we get on scene so they can be ready when we need them. Once we get the patient in the back of the rig - or if we stay on the phone with them in the house - we will tell them the patient’s full name and date of birth. If we don’t stay on the phone with them, when we get back into the ambulance we will give them a run-down of everything that we went through in the house or on the scene with what they couldn’t see. If we do a 12 lead, we will transmit it to Avel and we will have a doctor there to read it and tell us if there is anything that they see that we aren’t trained to see. They can tell us to give any of the medications in our protocol to help with what they are seeing. They help encourage us to do things that normally we wouldn’t do, like starting IVs or giving medication before arriving at the hospital. They will throw out ideas of what else we need to do or look for, and they can call any facility that we normally go to, to give a report - so that the facility will be ready when we get there. Avel eCare is such an important part of the Murray County Ambulance, and we’re looking forward to continuing to discover how it strengthens our service capabilities!
About MCMC. Murray County Medical Center is a 25-bed critical access hospital located in Slayton, Minnesota. MCMC provides a full range of diagnostic and therapeutic services for the community including family medicine, emergency services, surgical care, inpatient care, imaging and radiology, laboratory services, orthopedics and sports medicine, pharmacy services, respiratory care, rehab, skilled swing beds, and a wound care clinic, among others. MCMC has proudly served the community for over 60 years and is a major employer and committed community partner. Learn more at www.murraycountymed.org.
About Avel eCare. Avel eCare offers the largest and most comprehensive virtual health network in the world. Since 1993, Avel physicians and clinicians have partnered with more than 650 health care systems, rural hospitals, outpatient clinics, long-term care facilities, schools, and correctional facilities across the country to deliver high-quality care where and when it's needed. Learn more at www.avelecare.com.
About Southwest EMS. SWEMS was organized in 1979 with the assistance of the Redwood County Regional Development Commission to provide assistance to the Region’s EMS services in the areas of establishment, initial operation, expansion and improvement of basic and advanced emergency medical services system in the Southwest Minnesota Region. The Southwest MN EMS Region includes the 18 counties of Southwest Minnesota consisting of Big Stone, Chippewa, Cottonwood, Jackson, Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, McLeod, Meeker, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, Redwood Renville, Rock, Swift, and Yellow Medicine. The Region covers 12,011 square miles and has a population of 282,261 residents. Learn more at www.sw-ems.org.