We would like to track assets used on ambulances—stretchers, oxygen tanks, defibrillators, medical kits, and other equipment and tools. Can radio frequency identification technology be used to track these items as they are taken into and out of a vehicle, then stored and maintained?
—Marc, Trinidad and Tobago
Yes, RFID can be used for such a purpose. I think the biggest challenge you will face will be in ensuring reliable reads of tagged items moving into and out of storage, and into the ambulance. Since many of the items to be tagged will be made of metal, you will need tags designed to work in high-metal environments, in which reading a tag can be difficult. Depending on the read range required, you will likely employ passive tags, which will need to be designed to work in the presence of metal objects, or packaged in such a way that they can be used on such items.
You can probably use fixed interrogators in the storage areas, and there are mobile readers that could be utilized within the vehicle. However, wiring these devices to the ambulance's electrical system will require some custom work.
I think your biggest issue will involve finding the right tags, as well as the proper tag and reader placements, to ensure all tags can be read at all times. Some testing will be required, but once you find the correct solution, the rest should be very straightforward.
—Mark Roberti, Editor, RFID Journal
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