Fire Administrator Advocates Technology at Workshop

U.S. Fire Administrator Ernest Mitchell Jr. says there’s been an evolution in technology in the fire service over the years and there’s no better time for it to continue and blossom than now.

“We need to have knowledge and awareness of what we are truly facing, that’s what firefighters need to know,” he said. “We also need better ways to analyze the information that comes in.”

As the fire service shifts to more medical calls, the paramedics of the future will be increasingly linked to technology, Mitchell said. When he first was in the fire service, there wasn’t much more a responder could do for a trauma patient than to splint and bandage, he said.

Now, medics are in touch with doctors in hospitals with technology that can send EKGs and other information in real time. He predicted medics will continue to have wider and wider scopes of practices in the future, especially as the population ages and medical needs and calls increase.

He said he knows some medical programs have medics paired with nurses or physician assistants based in mobile home-like structures providing medical services.

“There will be a huge market for medical services in the future and great need for multifunction diagnostics.”

The fire side of the fire service is evolving as well as departments are called for miscellaneous services. He said the fire service is becoming sort of an “Uh Oh Squad” that responds to all emergency calls that are not criminal in nature.

Mitchell said the fire service needs the gifts of the innovators and researchers like those gathered inWorcesterand he encouraged them to support firefighting efforts with even more technology, but cautioned against “information overload” that responders can’t process quickly.

“We need you and we will use your technology,” Mitchell said. “It will become more and more useful for use in the future. …We need your gifts.”