A one of a kind, technologically advanced ambulance is now in service at St. Joseph hospital. Part of the brains behind the smart ambulance goes to a group of tech savvy Aggie Engineers.
From the outside the DREAMS (Disaster Relief And Emergency Medical Services) ambulance looks ordinary. But inside, the truck is equipped with state of the art technology including cameras and wireless internet services.
Doctors can see and hear patients on their way to the ER and get current vital statistics, all through a computer in the hospital.
Physicians can even draw on their computer screen to advise medics on procedures. Christopher Kocmoud, Texas A&M University System Software Engineer, explains how it works, "Doctors can draw in six colors on their computer screen and send it back to convey where to put a tube or something in the patient ... he can physically circle a spot on a rib and send it back and they can see it ."
Patient vital signs are sent back to the doctors real time, so ER physicians know exactly what is happening with the patient at any given second. "The computer system is designed to integrate our regular equipment: EKG's, heart monitors, blood pressure and compiles it into the computers system and is able to transmit it via cell phone modem to the physician's station," says St. Joseph's EMS Operations Manager, Patrick Braly.
The ambulance was funded by a grant from the the U.S. Army and designed by software engineers at Texas A&M. But, the real vision for this project came from Dr. Red Duke through a partnership with the UT Health Science Center.
The unit will be tested at St. Joseph for the next two years. An evaluation will be run at that time to see if the hospital wants to incorporate more DREAMS ambulances into the hospital's fleet.