Telehealth grant combines technology and Sturgis first responders

The Early evening news on KOTA Territory TV
Published: Nov. 1, 2022 at 6:34 PM CDT
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STURGIS, S.D. (KOTA) - One thing that came out of the pandemic was the importance of technology, especially among first responders and health care workers. In the Black Hills, one organization received a grant to combine those two.

Ambulances are used to transport injured patients to the hospital and EMTs often provide lifesaving care before a doctor. And now that care takes an extra step forward.

Sturgis Emergency Medical Services was awarded funding to outfit their ambulances with telecommunication equipment, which will connect doctors and nurses to EMS personnel to ensure patients receive the most appropriate care as quickly as possible.

“Specialists will actually be in our ambulances from the start when we push the button, that ‘hey we need an additional opinion on this.’ It’s not that the crews don’t know what they’re doing, it’s the additional opinion that helps and it’s the definitive care that they’re probably going to end up in Sioux Falls or somewhere with specialty care,” said Shawn Fischer, the ambulance director with Sturgis EMS.

Additionally, the telehealth specialist can provide status reports to the hospital about what’s happening with the patient, so that the hospital can have any supplies or staff prepped and ready to go.

EMS personnel provide critical care to the community, so having an extra opinion means the community receives enhanced responses.

Fischer added “I think the employees will be very benefited because there’s always when you want to get that second opinion, you know what you’re doing but hey what could do better or what are they going to want to do when we get them to the hospital? And I believe this is just going to give them that extra little opinion if needed. It’s not that we have to have that opinion, it’s if we got definitive care all the way through, what better thing could you ask for.”

To start with, only one ambulance will have the telehealth services and it should take six to eight weeks to get that vehicle outfitted with all the necessary equipment.