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Impact of Personal Digital Assistants in Emergency Medical Services Providers' Response to Motor Vehicle Crashes

Started: October, 2001 Ended: September, 2004 Project ID #426390 Status: Completed


To determine the impact of personal digital assistants on EMS response to, and treatment of, injured motor vehicle crash victims.


When transportation systems fail due to environmental, engineering or human factors, Emergency Medical Service (EMS) providers serve as the last bastion of hope for the survival of the crash victims. As such, EMS agencies and providers are an important part of the public safety component of intelligent transportation systems. The use of personal digital assistants, such as Palm Pilots and Hand Spring Visors, is proliferating among EMS agencies. However, controlled trials concerning the efficiency and effectiveness of these devices has been lacking. One of the issues that has confounded evaluation efforts is that there are a myriad of potential applications for the devices. These include: global positioning/global information systems; references and referral material; two way digital communication; and patient information collection and retrieval, to name a few. One of the most persistent and onerous challenges facing crash victims, EMS providers and hospital medical personnel in Montana has been the timely and accurate transmission of patient information gathered at the crash scene and in the back of the ambulance to emergency department personnel receiving the patient. The current paper-based form provided by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services’ EMS Section is more than 25 years old and typically contains information that is of limited value to the receiving medical team, the EMS agency or the patient. Not only does the lack of timely information interrupt the continuity of care and negatively impact patient outcome, it also creates a void of information that would be useful in the ongoing refinement of transportation systems. Recognizing this fact, the Montana EMS Section is currently in the final design phases of a scannable paper form and companion desktop software system. The deployment of this system provides an excellent opportunity for a side-by-side comparison of paper-based and personal digital assistant data collection. This project will compare the effectiveness of the scannable paper-based/ desktop patient information system against a PDA-based/ desktop system. Issues of timeliness, accuracy, completeness and legibility of data will be examined along with the system cost of deployment, training and maintenance. Additionally, user satisfaction data will be collected and analyzed.


  • Steve Albert - PI

  • Nels Sanddal - Main External Contact

  • Robin Kline - External Contact - Secondary

Files & Documents

Sponsors & Partners

  • Critical Illness and Trauma Foundation Sponsor
  • Research and Innovation Technology Administration (RITA) Co-Sponsor

Part of: Safety and Operations

Project Tagged In: emergency medical services

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