There’s an app for that: Wausau paramedics using new tech to help treat kids in medical emergencies

There’s an app for that: Wausau paramedics using new tech to help treat kids in medical emergencies

Published By: Wausau Daily Herald Thursday, October 24, 2019.

Wausau EMS Division Chief Jared Thompson, left, and Battalion Chief Al Antolik train with the Handtevy app. (Photo: Courtesy of the Wausau Fire Department)

WAUSAU – Paramedics at the Wausau Fire Department are now better prepared to help children in a medical emergency.

Members of the department recently got training to use a software system called Handtevy that gives first responders quick access to lifesaving medicine dosing information, EMS Division Chief Jared Thompson said. Wausau is the second department in the state to use this system. Wisconsin Rapids also uses this technology, Thompson said.

Pediatric emergency physician and EMS medical director Peter Antevy developed Handtevy in Florida. First responders across the country, in both large cities and small communities, use the system, according to the Handtevy website.

“This system is proven to work and give responders the confidence they need to administer the critical care these pediatric patients need,” Thompson said.

How does Handtevy work?

Handtevy is an app that tells first responders how much of a drug to give children based on their age. Before implementing this new system, first responders had to wait to get to the scene and weigh the child before administering any medicine, Thompson said. With this app, paramedics can get a child’s age from the 911 dispatcher and start preparing the correct dose of medicine.

“We don’t have to do any calculations,” Thompson said. “It’s all spelled out for us.”

The app does not tell first responders what kind of drug to give to a patient experiencing certain symptoms. The department has its own procedures to figure that out and works closely with pediatric staff at Aspirus Wausau Hospital to make sure they’re using the best protocols, Thompson said.

Handtevy also allows first responders to easily track how much of a drug they gave a patient and at what time, which helps emergency room staff continue to treat the child. Paramedics can also upload that data into their official reports, Thompson said

 Wausau Fire Lt. Cody Wiesman, right, and firefighter/paramedic Ashley Eggers train with the Handtevy app. (Photo: Courtesy of the Wausau Fire Department)

How will the app improve treatment?

The Wausau Fire Department does not treat many children, Thompson said. So having an app like Handtevy helps paramedics feel more confident, especially since administering medicine to children is more difficult than treating an adult, he said.

“Drug errors in the pediatric population are extremely high because we don’t deal with those patients on a daily basis,” Thompson said. “So when we get a call for a critically ill pediatric patient, there’s responder anxiety, scene factors where family members are distraught and all that merges to make medicine dosage errors higher than that of an adult.”

People are less likely to administer care, such as CPR, to a child versus an adult, Thompson said. Handtevy helps first responders treat children more like adults and increases their chances of survival.

“A majority of time parents or EMS on the scene want to (immediately) put the child in an ambulance and take them to the hospital,” Thompson said. “This system gives first responders the confidence to administer (emergency room) medications and get them stabilized on scene.”

The better care patients, especially children, can get before arriving at the hospital, the better their chances for survival. First responders in other states who have used this system reported the number of medication errors have decreased and survival rates have increased, according to the Handtevy website.

Most members of the department trained earlier this month. Thompson said all members will get the training, and the system will be live and ready to use in November. The city got a grant for the training in 2016.

“The Wausau Fire Department highly encourages all prehospital care providers to consider this system,” Thompson said.