Wi-Fi links ambulances, hospitals

By Andy Jenks - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

GOOCHLAND, VA (WWBT) - One day, you may hear about somebody whose life was saved thanks to wireless Internet. It's being used to treat emergencies faster than ever before.

If these computer images represented a real emergency, Valeta Daniels would be right on top of it from miles away.

"This immediately gives us a snapshot of what the patient looks like," Daniels said.

In a first-of-its-kind arrangement for Central Virginia, Henrico Doctors' Hospital and Goochland Fire/Rescue are linked by wireless Internet. Meaning, if you have a heart attack in Goochland, the ambulance crew can send real-time vital signs long before you make it to the ER.

"So the provider can be providing care and also can be transmitting this at the same time," Daniels said.

"This way, they don't have to take the time to pick up a radio and call us, or pick up a cell phone and call us," said Ben Warner, Chief Nursing Officer.

Information sent wirelessly would be encrypted and downloaded securely. The link allows doctors and nurses to be even further prepared for an incoming emergency, and is perhaps only the start of more wireless networking.

"I think when you look at consumer technology that you see with handheld devices, wireless interfaces from surfing the Internet, to your e-mail, to taking pictures - you're gonna see more and more of that technology employed not only inside the hospital, but outside the hospital," Warner said.

Goochland may be the first locality in Central Virginia to come onboard, but by August, Henrico County emergency crews are expected to join the program as well.

The arrangement depends on a patient choosing to be transported to one of three Henrico Doctors' Hospital campuses.

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