RFID Tracks Medical Equipment Aboard Ambulances

July 15, 2014 Lea DeJarlais

Successful management of ambulance equipment includes ensuring each piece receives regular maintenance and is aboard the ambulance, ready to treat a patient. To help improve their equipment management, East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) NHS Trust, a British emergency services provider, has deployed a UHF RFID solution to track equipment aboard their 450 vehicles.

The solution, provided by CoreRFID, consists of Xerafy's Titanium Metal Skin RFID labels built with Impinj Monza 5 tag chips. The tags were applied to 3,000-4,000 pieces of medical equipment, including resuscitators, ventilators and monitoring devices, and tracked with handheld RFID readers. Before the deployment, equipment was removed from each ambulance once a month, cleaned and inventoried. With multiple ambulances being cleaned and serviced at the same time, there was risk of equipment ending up lost or placed aboard the wrong ambulance during the cleaning and restocking process.

With the RFID solution implementation, East Midland's staff now uses handheld RFID readers to quickly inventory ambulance assets and monitor maintenance needs. At the beginning of the inventory process, each ambulance's contents are scanned, and the information is compared to the list of goods that should be on the vehicle. Any discrepancies are then displayed on the screen. With that information, workers can search for the missing items, locate them, and return them to the proper location. If a piece of equipment is due for service, that information will also be displayed on the reader screen. Staff members can then either provide the required service or move the equipment to a servicing area, updating data on the system software in either scenario. After all of the equipment has been cleaned, the vehicle is reloaded and a final read indicates whether all items are present and properly serviced.

Since going live nine months ago, this RFID system has allowed East Midlands to be sure it can provide the necessary medical services in the event of an emergency, and has reduced the amount of labor hours required to check ambulances against inventory lists. They've also been able to identify and locate items that had been missing.

Source: RFID Journal

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