Faster Response for Paramedics

When every second counts, monitoring the vital signs of all victims in a disaster or another type of chaotic situation can be difficult for emergency medical technicians and paramedics. Emergency medical help needs a way to easily monitor multiple patients on the scene, receive notifications when vital signs change for the worse, and be able to share the information when needed.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) in partnership with the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwestern National Laboratory (PNNL), are looking at sensors that allow data to be shared among EMTs and paramedics at a disaster site. Monitoring is achieved by technology called VitalTag

The VitalTag suite connects to a victim’s chest with other sensors attached to the ear and index finger. The device then collects and broadcasts the victim’s vital signs to the team’s mobile devices, allowing the team to prioritize their attention to those in need of the most urgent care.

The current VitalTag prototype can monitor blood pressure, heart rate, respiration rate, blood oxygen shock index, single-lead electrocardiogram, and other metrics. The data can be transmitted in real-time to laptops, phones, and tablets in the network. The data can be monitored from initial contact with a patient, all the way through to the patient’s recovery.

An attractive feature of the VitalTag system is the multi-platform user interface which displays all the important data in comprehensive interactive tables. Responders can use the visuals to triage patients quickly and the information can be transmitted instantly from the disaster site to the ambulance and then on to the hospital.

The prototype for this device is currently being evaluated by PNNL in partnership with Anovaworks, an occupational medicine company. The device will be evaluated to see whether the measurements from VitalTag are consistent with measurements taken using standard medical devices. So far, VitalTag is a fielded prototype technology that has not yet been approved by FDA and is not yet commercially available.

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