Program connects medics in high-risk situations to trauma center
By Chris Fish
PALM BAY -- On March 6, 2012, Brevard County Sheriff's Deputy Barbara Pill was shot after stopping a vehicle in Melbourne in connection with a stolen property call from a local motel.
Deputy Pill was transported to Health First Holmes Regional Medical Center where she would later die.
Now, more than one year later, Holmes and the Palm Bay Police Department are dedicating their time to an innovative new program that will potentially save the lives of individuals in critical condition.
The TACTEL Tactical Telemedicine Program is designed to provide medics in high-risk situations with a direct video link to the Trauma Center at Holmes, where surgeons will advise First Responders with what to do to help the patient before they arrive at the hospital.
"When someone is severely injured, actions taken and decisions made within that first hour are crucial to obtaining the best possible outcome for a patient," said Dr. Peter Pappas, Health First trauma surgeon and co-creator of the program, in a press release. "This technology is a way for us to squeeze every second out of that critical golden hour."
Dr. Pappas said he believes the new program is an innovative step for medicine practiced with telecommunication.
"I believe this technology can be as revolutionary for emergency medical care as the advent of CB radio was in the mid-20th century," he said. "This is the next step in frontier medical communications, and I'm excited to be a part of it."
The program received national recognition on April 10 in Atlanta at the Transforming Local Government Conference 2013, in which the medical center and police department were awarded the 2013 Award for Innovation in Local Government from the Alliance for Innovation.
Officials said the program was chosen from more than 70 applications from municipalities and their community partners across the United States and Canada.
Dr. Pappas said the program can be administered through computers and smartphones, and it is designed to enhance officer safety and assist in disaster management.
"TACTEL builds on (Holmes') 10-year history of leadership and innovation in telemedicine," he said.
"Right now, this same equipment allows critical care specialists to evaluate patients throughout the Health First system of hospitals and allows our community's trauma center at Holmes Regional to connect with trauma centers across the state for education and disaster preparedness."