FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                   

Contact:   Captain Dave Wheaton, Lee County Public Safety/EMS
                (941) 335-1661




FORT MYERS, Fla. (March 12, 2002) – Paramedics and EMTs with Lee County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) will soon be capturing patient data at the scene using handheld computers – a system that should improve accuracy and increase productivity. 

The Board of Lee County Commissioners approved the $418,000 purchase of the computers today with $177,000 of that coming from a state Bureau of EMS matching grant.  The vendor is HealthWare Solutions. 

The money will allow the county to buy the system and 35 computers.  Lee County EMS operates 21, 24-hour ambulances and four, 12-hour ambulances on the road. 

Currently, EMS crews complete paper “run reports” – which detail patient data, medications used, and where and how the patient was transported – during and after the call.  The paper run report requires darkening in the appropriate circles on more than 100 possible options, which are later read by a computer. 

The electronic data collection system will allow the paramedics and EMTs to input the data in the field.  The system will capture complete patient and call data, including patient demographics, medical history, vital signs, scene details, billing information, assessments and treatments provided.  It also incorporates error checking and data validation to ensure higher quality reporting and reduce errors. 

In addition, crews will be able to plug the handhelds into computers at the hospital to transfer the patient information.  Data also can be transferred from unit to unit, which will allow fire departments using similar systems to transfer initial data if they arrive at the scene first. 

Lee EMS estimates the computers will save about five minutes of administrative time per report – the agency does nearly 60,000 reports a year.  The information generated also will assist in the measurement of operational performance and improve the agency’s database of call and patient data. 

Lee County EMS provides out-of-hospital advanced life support response and care to more than 50,000 citizens and visitors each year and also operates an air ambulance helicopter.  Its annual budget is $21.4 million and it employs more than 200 people.  This year, EMS celebrates its 30th Anniversary serving the residents and visitors of Lee County.  To learn more about Lee County EMS, visit its web site at