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RFID Saves an EMS With Inventory Challenges

South Metro Fire Rescue Authority is tracking medical supplies at its warehouse and at 17 stations, to reduce waste and improve efficiencies.
By Bob Violino
May 18, 2015

South Metro Fire Rescue Authority, in Centennial, Colo., provides emergency and prevention services for roughly 195,000 residents in two counties, as well as for the thousands of people who come into the communities to work. The organization's Fire & Emergency Medical Services (EMS) department operates from 17 stations and is staffed by fire and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics. It's essential that their ambulances are equipped with all the medical supplies that might be needed in an emergency situation.

South Metro faced a few inventory-management challenges. The organization was maintaining an excessive amount of inventory. The warehouse at its headquarters and each station were stocked with the same number of medical supplies. In addition, the majority of the medications and other medical disposable supplies have expiration dates. Often, the medical supplies expired before they could be used, due either to overstocks or to a lack of demand for those products. That includes the rarely used supplies and pharmacology the organization's Advanced Life Support units are required to carry for critical intervention.

South Metro Fire Rescue Authority tracks medical supplies at its warehouse and at 17 stations via an RFID solution.
"Some incident types are common, where others are very rare," says Rich Buchanan, an EMS operations lieutenant at South Metro. "A licensed medic is required to carry [in the ambulance] all of the supplies for all of the different types of emergencies."

South Metro was using a highly labor-intensive process to update its inventory, Buchanan says. This involved having crews at each station manually count and verify expiration dates for all supplies, which took a long time and was prone to human error. The organization needed an efficient way to monitor medical supplies so they would likely be used before the expiration dates were reached.

In March 2015, South Metro adopted an RFID inventory-management system known as IntelliView, from Silent Partner Technologies (SPT), to improve efficiencies. Following a pilot at South Metro's warehouse to demonstrate the solution for the entire management team, the organization decided to roll out the solution at all 17 stations. The system is helping South Metro to better manage inventory, reduce waste from expired products and improve asset control, Buchanan says.

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