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Tasmanian Paramedics take up Panasonic Toughbook for extreme environments

The Tasmanian Ambulance Service in a partnership with HealthConnect Tasmania has rolled out rugged Panasonic Toughbook CF-19 and CF-18 notebooks across its team of paramedics and clinical support officers.

The Service is responsible for some of the most remote and rugged terrain in Australia, with the paramedic teams operating from ambulances, fixed wing aircraft and a rescue helicopter.

The Toughbook runs the VACIS electronic patient care record system. When assisting a patient, paramedics make a record of symptoms and other patient details as well as treatment they have given. The Toughbook also holds information to assist paramedics such as clinical practice guidelines.

Lisa Wilson, ePCR project manager for Tasmanian Ambulance, said that the Toughbook had a number of features vital to the remote and demanding environment the paramedics operate in.

"We needed wireless NextG capability, as well as the backlit, waterproof keyboard. The screen and keyboard have to be visible and accessible in bad weather, and any time day or night. The Toughbook also has to withstand constant vibration in the back of an ambulance which the fitted printers, that have sustained some damage, are unable to do."

The Toughbook's suite of features to support constant operation in extreme environments includes a magnesium alloy case and sealed keyboard and ports for dust and water resistance, with the ability to withstand drops, shocks, vibration and extremes of temperature. For outdoor readability, it has a bright 550 Nit screen with a low-reflection coating.

 Lisa Wilson added: "Access to VACIS and resources such as the eMIMS medical database also allow paramedics to do a more efficient job. Our goal is to use VACIS to enhance patient care by improving information processing and auditing cases to measure performance and to assist paramedics in improving their skills."

Tasmanian Ambulance will use VACIS to gain greater insights into individual paramedics' case experience to determine what professional development they need. The software will also allow them to break down all cases by type, and fine-tune the focus of their overall training program.


The Service currently has 70 Toughbooks and plans to increase the number as it upgrades its branch station infrastructure in the coming year. Stations that previously had one paramedic will also be upgraded to have rotating day and night crews, with new Toughbooks to be allocated per station.

Tasmania is a popular State for car and bike rallies, and additional Toughbooks will also be provided for emergency services support at these events.

Features that Tasmanian Ambulance hopes to introduce in the future include NextG transfer of VACIS information in the field so that, for example, case information collected by a helicopter rescue crew using a Toughbook can be transferred automatically for use by the ambulance paramedics who meet them.

A dispatch system will also allow drivers to click on the way to their next case and access information collected by the State-wide Command and Control Centre. In addition, Tasmanian Ambulance is looking at mounting a solution in ambulances that includes a Toughbook 'workstation' at the rear and a second screen at the front. The officers will be able to use GPS software to help provide directions in the emergency response to calls - which is very important in the middle of the night in rural areas that are poorly lit, or may have one postcode over a very wide area, making locations difficult to find quickly using traditional maps.