Farmington Hills Fire Department senior firefighter and paramedic Justin Perkey uses the department’s new e-Bridge software to take photographs of a car wreck.

Farmington Hills Fire Department senior firefighter and paramedic Justin Perkey uses the department’s new e-Bridge software to take photographs of a car wreck.

Photo by Jonathan Shead

Farmington, Hills paramedics find innovative ways to enhance public safety efforts

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published September 4, 2020

 Farmington Hills Fire Department senior firefighter and paramedic Justin Perkey stands in front of an EMS vehicle holding the department’s new e-Bridge cellphone device.

Farmington Hills Fire Department senior firefighter and paramedic Justin Perkey stands in front of an EMS vehicle holding the department’s new e-Bridge cellphone device.

Photo by Jonathan Shead


FARMINGTON HILLS — The Farmington Hills Fire Department and the Farmington Public Safety Department are incorporating new technology to enhance their emergency medical service efforts amidst COVID-19 and beyond.

A new e-Bridge software powered through a smartphone now allows FHFD paramedics to take photographs and video from the scene of an emergency and securely transmit those images to their partners: Beaumont Farmington Hills and Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital.

The Farmington City Council unanimously approved allowing Farmington Public Safety to purchase a Lund University Cardiopulmonary Assist System Chest Compression device that will allow the department to take a hands-off approach to CPR Aug. 17.


FHFD’s e-Bridge software
Where hospital staff were once reliant on hearing what happened at the scene of an emergency from paramedics via radio transmission, they can now see, via photos and videos, what happened at the scene, too.

“This technology affords us the opportunity to give health care providers within emergency departments an even greater appreciation than we ever have before as to what we’re bringing them,” FHFD EMS Coordinator Jim Etzin said.

If paramedics are at the scene with a patient suffering a heart attack or a stroke, physicians can now see the electrocardiogram or neurological examination taken by paramedics. At the scene of a car crash, photos and videos sent can enhance the information physicians have to work with when a patient arrives in the emergency room.

“This imagery speeds up that entire process,” Etzin said. Beaumont Farmington Medical Director of the Emergency Trauma Center Dr. Sanford Vieder added that being sent the information as it’s happening allows the proper emergency team to be activated and ready for the patient’s arrival. That time saved could ultimately save a patient’s life.

“Those pictures give us a lot of useful information to be able to decide how to best care for and what kind of injuries we should be looking for or can expect, based on the mechanism,” Vieder said. “If you can direct your care based upon the circumstances in which that injury occurred, then that really gives you a heads up in terms of really honing your areas of concern and treatment.”

The technology can be used in a myriad of situations, too, Etzin said, such as FHFD paramedics using the software to transmit photo evidence of a gunshot victim’s wounds. Vieder said the technology could also help if someone fell from a long distance, like a roof, or if physicians need to encourage patients to come to the hospital, they can speak with the patient directly at the scene via video.

Etzin said the software is fully HIPAA compliant. As a closed system, the images and videos are transmitted between the smartphone and the device at the hospital. The images are not archived unless an emergency physician decides it would be beneficial to transfer the information into the patient’s medical records.

“Now another health care provider accessing that record a day, a week or a month later can gain that same appreciation for what firefighter paramedics and ER physicians saw that day or night,” he said. “That’s pretty cool.”

Birmingham resident Ronald Hausmann donated funding to help the FHFD and the West Bloomfield Fire Department implement the technology into their operations. Veider said he’s trying to encourage other departments to use the technology as well and thinks it’ll eventually become more widespread in the area.


Farmington Public Safety
At the Aug. 17 City Council meeting, Farmington Public Safety Director Frank Demers informed council members that his department was eligible for supplemental COVID-19 funding, totaling $12,342, through the state.

Demers identified a need to enhance his paramedics’ abilities to perform CPR while also taking into account the virus-related health risks that come from an emergency performance measure that’s close contact by nature.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re not letting up (on) our mission at all to provide high level care to people in need,” Demers said. “When we’re dispatched to a call where someone is in cardiac or respiratory arrest, that certainly ratchets up the immediate care to give that person by the responding units, because we’re there to try and save their lives. We have to be equipped with the tools to do that.”

The LUCAS Chest Compression device takes two people to attach to a patient safely and doesn’t require any wiring or technology. With proper training, the device can be attached in as quickly as seven seconds, though Demers admits there will be a bit of a learning curve when his department first receives the device.

Once the device is attached, it begins to deliver chest compressions, freeing up personnel to provide other critical care needs at the scene.

“Officers can have a little bit bigger cone of safety while working on the patient, delivering breaths or oxygen, and not being so close to them that they’re putting themselves in jeopardy of potentially contracting the virus,” he said. “It provides another layer of protection, while at the same time providing those life-saving efforts in the critical moments of cardiac or respiratory arrest.”

Although the council gave the go-ahead to purchase the device, Demers is waiting for final approval from the state to actually order it. The device costs $13,186. With the grant funding of $12,342, the city would ultimately pay $844 from the city budget for the device.

“I’m cautiously optimistic at this point that the funds will be approved by the state, and once that happens, it will be very shortly thereafter (that) we actually get the delivery of this device and deploy it in the field,” Demers said, adding that the device will continue to be used even beyond COVID-19’s restrictions.

“We’ll keep our training up to date and train regularly with it so that we’re proficient with it. It will certainly stay in our toolbox for the foreseeable future. … Hopefully, we don’t have to use it, but I think, unfortunately, history shows we certainly will. Hopefully, it will contribute to saving a lot of people’s lives.”

Farmington Public Safety personnel have administered CPR during 14 incidents in the last couple months.