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Crossroads of the Marine Corps

Firefigters field advanced equipment

16 Jul 2013 | Pfc. Samuel Ellis Marine Corps Base Quantico

With a “click” the filing cabinet drawer, stacked with hundreds of reports, was now closed. The filing system that had been used for years had come to the end of its use.

For three weeks, Marine Corps Base Quantico firefighters have been adjusting to a replacement called: the Toughbook, a touchscreen computer tablet, purchased to replace older methods of patient care tracking, such as paper forms, and expedite the effectiveness of the first responders.

“Very few fire departments in the Marine Corps have this capability,” said Ulysses Taormina, assistant chief of Emergency Medical Services. “This transition has taken us from handwriting on paper to storing information on a computer.”

According to the assistant chief, the tablets have a lot more to offer than just a digital filing cabinet though.

“Not only does this equipment give us tablet-style patient care tracking, but it also is used by our inspection branch and in our building assessments,” said Taormina. “This upgrade is making us more streamlined as a department.”

The equipment is also designed to give the firemen other added features like maps and directions, weather forecasts and Bluetooth capability that allows it to link with other important systems like cardiac equipment. The Bluetooth capability provides an easy transition for information between various pieces of equipment. The department even hopes to link the system with its emergency dispatch system in the future.

“The equipment is standardizing our patient information collection,” said Brian Weston, Quantico firefighter/paramedic. “If a fire truck arrives to an emergency first, the emergency medical technician can input patient information and treatment into the Toughbook, so when the paramedic arrives, he already has information to work from.”

The department credits the base communications/ electronics division for offering to pay the $54,000 it cost to provide 10 of these computers.

“The fire department told us how it would help them if they had a portable computer,” said Richard Logsdon, director of the Marine Corps Base Quantico Communications/ Electronics Division. “The purchase was a no-brainer for us when we saw the benefit of the equipment.”

 After receiving the equipment, it took approximately three months of work for Taormina and  Weston to prepare the tablets for use. Add two months of training, for the firemen to be proficient and comfortable, and the department is now functioning with more efficient, streamlined equipment.

“The initial goal was patient care reporting and getting them on all the vehicles,” said Taormina. “We’ve done that. They are now in service and running.”


Marine Corps Base Quantico