MORRISONVILLE - When the state recommended ambulance squads consider electronic record filing instead of paper, the Morrisonville Ambulance Service on Banker Road wasted no time.
Last December, the squad purchased a Web-based program called emsCharts, which allows the emergency medical technicians to complete their pre-hospital care records in a much simpler and more organized way.
"If somebody comes to us for instance and says, 'Hey, I need a record on such and a such a date at such and such a time,' what we're able to do is actually go into the computer program itself and find whatever kind of information they want, without having boxes and boxes of paperwork and PCRs to go through," explained critical care EMT Tyler Ashlaw, a member of the Morrisonville squad.
Ashlaw said after training, the EMTs were able to start using the new program in May, reducing the amount of ink and paper previously used.
"To be in the field and see how much paperwork we really do, and see how much this eliminates, it's pretty amazing," he said.
Prior to the new system, PCRs, which consist of a three-carbon copy form, were used for every call the squad responded to. From there, a copy was then faxed to the hospital. Now, the hospital receives the information with the click of a button.
"When we lock our chart, it goes automatically to the hospital," Ashlaw explained. "Regardless of where we are."
The program also sends the paperwork to their region headquarters in Glens Falls and the New York State Department of Health, saving even further paper, as well as postage.
"I couldn't even tell you how much it saved us, but a lot," Ashlaw said. "We usually would go through a few cases of paper a year and I think we're still on the same case of paper that we bought initially in the first part of the year."
The Morrisonville Ambulance Squad was the first squad in the area to choose the electronic system over paper, which according to Ashlaw is something they strive for.
"Our agency has been pretty much trying to stay ahead of the game throughout its entire existence," he said.
However, since going live with the new system, Ashlaw said the city of Plattsburgh's ambulance squad has now got on board with an electronic filing program.
"They're just working out the quirks and kinks," Ashlaw explained.
As for other squads, Ashlaw suggests they consider the change as well.
"It makes your job a lot easier," he said. "It's hard at first, but it pays off in the end."