The digitization of first aid, an essential development that must accelerate

The digital transformation is gradually being established within first aid services and in particular among firefighters. Whether it is about improving the relationship with the victim or facilitating coordination with other rescue services, new digital tools are emerging and are already emerging as essential for improving the daily life of firefighters. A transition which, however, must be structured and supported by the authorities.

Innovative solutions at the service of SDIS

If the health sector has already started a process of digital transformation for several years now, all trades are not equal in the face of these developments. This is particularly the case of firefighters who, through the departmental fire and rescue services (SDIS), are gradually starting to appropriate new digital tools to make their action more effective in the field and in outside.

Among the solutions put in place, we find the desire to simplify the administrative process via the dematerialization of the balance sheet. A useful change because it is now possible to quickly transmit information relating to the victim’s condition to hospital services. Other digital solutions help to streamline the intervention process. This is the case of an application which allows firefighters to have essential information on a vehicle in the event of the extrication of a victim. Another proposes the deployment of a nominative QR Code which offers rapid access to the medical and identity data of the victim in the event of an accident.

Digitization is also improving the logistical management of equipment within the barracks, the objective being to ensure that all the equipment is in good condition and available in the intervention vehicles. This thus contributes to better communication between firefighters in the preparation of interventions.

Secure and manage data, key issues for health services

All these devices, although useful, also bring their lots of questions. One of them concerns the management and protection of patient medical data. Most of the tools mentioned here come from private operators and it is important that the legislation regulates the use of the data collected by these companies. An approach already initiated in Europe, where any private or public body that processes personal data must comply with the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).

In addition, firefighters and more generally first aid services must ensure that they have a sufficient level of interoperability between medical information systems. Beyond a better patient experience, healthcare professionals gain in simplicity of organization and speed of execution.

Supporting firefighters in their digitalization

Each SDIS is free to act as it wishes, and with the budget at its disposal. However, if there is a real desire among firefighters to take the digital leap, they are faced with a real lack of public funding. A problem that prevents the widespread deployment of new technologies in the territory and favors more isolated initiatives. By allocating more budgets to the SDIS, it would then be possible to accelerate the digital transformation of the profession but also to buy new equipment to replace the existing one, sometimes poorly suited to the needs of firefighters.

However, things have tended to change in recent years. In 2021, the Ministry of the Interior will deploy NexSIS, the new alert system common to all SDIS. This system should offer better management of emergency calls by ensuring interoperability between first aid services and law enforcement.

Unfortunately, the health disaster induced by the Covid-19 crisis put the digitalization of SDIS on hold. The deployment of new projects has been delayed, but the reality on the ground places urgency as an absolute priority. There is no doubt that the change will resume its course as soon as the health situation is more manageable.