Liberty County EMS Leads the Way in Telemedicine

DAYTON, September 30, 2015 - At a gathering of local officials, emergency medical professionals and community leaders in Dayton today, Liberty County Emergency Medical Service (EMS) in partnership with Houston Methodist San Jacinto Hospital®, LifeBot® and Medicus Rescue introduced innovative technology enabling live video, voice and vital sign data transmissions from an ambulance while transporting a patient to the hospital. 

According to Mike Koen, Liberty County EMS director, the new technology is now installed on two of the department’s ambulances and is capable of connecting directly to LifeBot® monitors at the hospital in Baytown. Liberty County EMS is the first in Texas to deploy the technology.
Houston Methodist San Jacinto Hospital® considers the two-way, live communication critical particularly when a patient’s life is at stake.

“The ability to utilize innovative, live stream video to communicate with EMS providers in the field, sometimes 30-50 minutes away from the hospital, can assist in saving lives,” said David Bernard, Houston Methodist San Jacinto Hospital chief executive officer. “Our emergency room physicians will see firsthand the care being provided by the first responders and offer assistance as needed.” 

Liberty County EMS has led the way in mobile integrated healthcare as the test bed for the DREAMS EMS telemedicine system. DREAMS (Disaster Relief and Emergency Medical Systems), is a $14 million digital ambulance telemedicine research project developed by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (UCMC) and the Telemedicine and Technology Research Center (TATRC).

Original leaders of the project were the late Dr. James “Red” Duke, Jr., the legendary trauma surgeon at Memorial Hermann Medical Center and Doug Tindall, formerly with the University of Texas Health Science Center. This system was the first and only of its kind to be successfully deployed, sending live interactive video, voice, complete patient physiological data, and fully integrating a live ePCR (patient medical call record) to physicians at the hospital. Integral to its development was the first communications system functioning transparently over wireless cellular, 3G, satellite, and military data radio systems.

In 2010, the exclusive world-wide rights to the DREAMS technologies were acquired by LifeBot®. It has evolved the technologies with two primary steps. First, LifeBot® miniaturized the system and made it lightweight and portable, so it may be instantly deployed and used anywhere at any time. Second, many new technologies have been integrated into the system, the latest of which is portable ultrasound.

“We could not be prouder of this use at Liberty County EMS and Houston Methodist San Jacinto Hospital®,” said LifeBot® chief operating officer, Kerry Fletcher. “This is the first deployment in Texas, the birthplace where DREAMS or Mobile Integrated Healthcare was born, developed, and proven under the worst of disasters,” Fletcher who just returned from a trip to Holland to introduce LifeBot® in that country said this is just the beginning of a system that will further evolve to meet global needs for more efficient emergency medical response.

In addition to Duke and Tindall, other primary thought leaders were Professor James Wall, and Larry Flournoy and Robert Arnold at Texas A&M. The system was developed over seven years culminating with the historic first use of such a system in a major disaster, by Liberty County EMS, in the aftermath of hurricanes Rita, Ike, and Katrina. DREAMS is still the only such system proven in use during such major disasters.

“Our commitment to quality is best exemplified by the continuing telemedicine technology that LifeBot DREAMS has developed equipping us to continue to provide our communities the highest levels of advanced care available,’ said Mike Koen, Liberty County EMS director. “I just wish Dr. Duke was still alive today to see where his vision has taken us.”



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