The Unwired Medic

Teaching EMS providers & other public safety pros about using mobile tech to improve their practice, patient care, continuing education, scene safety, general entertainment, & productivity.

Nex Band

November 17, 2016
by The Unwired Medic
3 Comments

Product Review: Nex Band Smart Bracelet

Nex BandAt CES 2016 (the International Consumer Electronics Show), I saw a pretty inventive company that was making a smart bracelet with interchangeable modules that you snap in an out, and each of these smart modules was programmable to allow different features. Neat concept overall. Honestly, I didn’t write about it until now because it was still a proof of concept and not quite ready to market. It was a neat idea, but it was bulky, and the overall sentiment for smart watches was they couldn’t be too bulky, even for the sake of new and expansive features. But, I kept them in mind for when they evolved their device into a production ready unit.

That’s all changed as of today.  The Nex Band has arrived. Far upgraded from the concept I viewed at CES, this device is no less than incredible and the possibilities are endless.  The video below will show you more of a social aspect to the band. It can be integrated into your home’s smart devices, like garage door openers, gate openers, security lighting, or join with many other smart devices in your home. It has a great social aspect, such as being able to detect close proximity to friends, auto message sends, tagging locations for reminding you about things, like making a Yelp review, or adding a restaurant to your favorites list.

It has a gaming aspect as well. Imagine playing a virtual “tag, you’re it” game while working in a System Status Management agency. When I worked at MedStar, a traditional game was to place a special bowling ball on another crew’s ambulance, in a cabinet, on their gurney, etc., so when they took a corner, accelerated, or braked, they had to call their unit on the air and declare that they had the ball. So every crew tried to avoid the crew with the ball. Sometimes, the mass of six or seven ambulances at a hospital would mysteriously disappear and the ball was left on the driver’s seat. The Nex Band bracelet could be used like this too, along with a “no tagback” rule.

Check this out…

Seems pretty cool, eh? So let’s talk about the serious aspect of the utility that the Nex Band can provide.

Let’s say you have a family member that has Rheumatoid and Osteo Arthritises (sp?), or COPD or CHF. Maybe they’re getting some knee replacements shortly since there is literally no cartilage left in their knees. They also have been given their first smartphone, like a Samsung Galaxy J3 V, with “Easy Mode”. They aren’t moving the best and we’re afraid they might fall again (one visit from the fire department for a lift assist is enough to realize it’s getting worse and they don’t want to be in an assisted living facility). As much as we would hope they would carry their phone everywhere in the house, it isn’t going to happen for a late night bathroom visit, or just to get up and get a meal. Enter the Nex Band. A slip and fall can be dealt with by a simple push of a pre-programmed button that calls their son or daughter, or sends a pre-programmed text message saying they need help, or dials or texts an E9-1-1 PSAP. Another button turns on the speakerphone so they can talk from where they fell. A medication reminder may be programmed for another button. Another could remind them to do their physical therapy and respiratory exercises. Another can open the garage or unlock the front door for emergency responders and turn the lights on.

How about for us in EMS and public safety? We could use it as a panic button for when we find ourselves needing the cavalry on a call, since pushing a button on a bracelet is far more discrete than picking up a radio or phone and calling a MAYDAY alert, and that might get you shot or make you the target of an aggressor. It could be used by a flight crew as well (I’m okay, I need help, MAYDAY, on scene, transporting, etc.).

Do you see where I am going here? There is no limit to the amount of benefit to the pre and peri-hospital and general medical fields. The Nex Band can help with nearly any home therapy or call for assistance we can provide. It can be a safety device for crews that cannot speak or use a radio. And it’s waterproof. It’s still a bit bulky, I admit, but it isn’t like any other smartwatch out there. You can adjust each module from the app, or you can hack each module if you want even more customization. When I saw them at CES, you could even integrate it with IFTTT.

Learn More:

They’re getting ready to come to market soon. If you want to learn more, you can sign up on their site for more information here: The Nex Band

November 14, 2016
by The Unwired Medic
2 Comments

Product Review: Magnum Response III 6.0 Boots

I see this question often on Facebook and Twitter: “What boots should I get for EMS?”

About a year ago, Magnum was looking for wear testers and I signed up to see if I could join in. It’s a neat program that allows you to check out a few Magnum product and you can keep them. They do put out requests for wear testers on their social media pages, so make sure to follow Magnum on Facebook and Twitter.

A few months ago, they sent me a welcome package with a t-shirt, water bottle, some decals, a guide book, and my first product to test and review.  I was asked to review the new Response III 6.o boots.

 

Magnum Response III 6.0 BootsThe last time I wore Magnum/Hi-Tec boots was in the Marines in 1995.  I only got to wear them on duty for about 3 months, then the regs changed and we couldn’t wear them any more. In that 3 months, I completely wore them out. They were comfortable, like tennis shoes. They were very popular among Marines (at least at MCB Pendleton). Since then, I have worn Danner, almost exclusively. Other brands were just not comfortable and able to handle the daily grind of working in EMS and for recreational hiking.

Get Kilted - Get Checked

Get Kilted – Get Checked

That I was able to review these boots was perfect timing for me, with my latest Danners wearing out. I have been wearing these boots for about four months now. They have proven to be quite durable and very comfortable as well. I have even worn them with my kilt during the annual September Kilted To Kick Cancer campaign.

What’s this all a-boot?

I wear a 10.5 to 11.0 boot and these boots fit like a glove right out of the box. I found them comfortable to wear, with good padding throughout the footbed, and they provided me with good arch support. The sole is flexible, but firm. It appears to be a non-replaceable rubber/plastic hybrid. There is a good amount of grip on them with broad grooves (great for channeling water away) and even walking across wet surfaces, I found I didn’t lose even a little traction. The other nice thing is that they don’t collect junk, which is important for me, as I work full-time in our area’s local L2 Trauma Center’s IT Data Centers. One of the two sites I work at has two retention ponds and a creek between them. So, it is blessed with a large flock of annual resident Canadian geese. They leave mushy poo everywhere, and as good as the facilities team is about keeping walkways clean, they are simply outnumbered. It is important not to track stuff into a data center. We keep the rooms as clean as a high-end hospital’s trauma bay. Not quite sterile, but exceptionally clean. Anti-static also is important, and the rubber compound does not disappoint. I walk across sticky mats before each entry to the data centers, and when I step on them, I look at the footprints left and they are pretty clean… moreso than the Vibram soles I have on other boots.

You may think that doesn’t reflect what we do in EMS, but I can tell you that I am frequently kicking freight boxes and pallets, climbing in and out of raised floors and metal server racks, running carts, climbing ladders, and much more. I often catch the toes on snags of metal and server rack doors. I’m pretty rough on my boots.

As far as EMS goes, I have worked a couple shifts and found them to be very supportive for the ankle, easy to quickly put back on when the tones drop. They have one catch on each side for speed lacing. I would prefer true speed lacing loops over the catches, personally. Splashing through decent puddles (1-2″ deep) is no challenge and no water leaks into the boots. When I wear them for 12 hours at a time, my feet come out dry and cool. (Note, I usually wear Under Armour boot socks with any boots.) By the end of the 12 hours, I am ready to take them off for a while, but I’m now in my 40’s, so that seems to be the case with any footwear for me.

I think my Magnum Response II 6.0 boots are more durable than the Shadow Trooper's!

I think my Magnum Response II 6.0 boots are more durable than the Shadow Trooper’s!

The toes are not reinforced on these boots, so if I had the option, I would prefer at least a reinforced toe, or a steel toe option. Ankle support is less than an 8″ or 10″ boot (which I prefer), but not bad for a 6″ boot. I haven’t rolled an ankle on a hike over semi-rough terrain. Aesthetically, they look like black work boots. I’m finally at the point where I feel a good polishing is due. They have held up well to scuffing so I haven’t needed to do that yet.

The Verdict:

Overall, I’d give them an 8/10. I am not sorry I got my hands on these boots. They are comfortable, durable, and attractive. I wear them at work and off duty. They provide good support and protection. They are comparable in quality and durability to much more expensive boots, like Danner. If the speed laces and reinforced/steel toe were available, they’d have scored a perfect 10. Not bad for a MSRP of $79.99.

Learn more about the Magnum Response III 6.0 boots and the Response Boots series at http://us.magnumboots.com/response-series.html

Do you have a favorite work boot? Share yours in the comments!

November 3, 2016
by The Unwired Medic
0 comments

I’m tired of Facebook EMS forums

Most Facebook Forums

It is more than a little disheartening to find so many EMS forums on Facebook that are focusing on less important issues. You can find hundreds or even thousands of posts with essentially what amounts to gore porn, and asking about the best boots to wear, which stethoscope should I buy, and, literally, “I failed my exam twice. Do you have any tips to pass the exam?” By the way, about every five posts is an advert for Teespring or some other shirt maker hawking stupid slogans like, “I’m here to save your ass, not kiss it!”, and “Being an Emergency Medical Technician is not a career, it’s a post apoloclyptic survival skill!” Give me a break.

What I don’t see much of is EMS pages on Facebook that talk about clinical excellence, best practices, evolutionary tactics and treatments in EMS, alternative uses of medications, expanding our knowledge base and clinical aptitude and competency. So when I do come across groups like that, I tend to stick around, and occasionally I even help admin them. My blog and Facebook followers are higher caliber providers and I know that most, if not all, of you want to learn and be the best medics you can be for your patients. I’m going to give you a list of pages worth checking into for more about actual medicine and less about hero worship and people too lazy to research questions before posting yet another redundantly redundant, no-skill, knowledge-less, drivel ridden post.

Where to look to learn and contribute to the improvement of your care and all of EMS:

Believe me when I say that these pages are chock full of the latest peer-reviewed science and medical evidence. There are some real superstars of EMS lurking in these forums. Big national names, quiet, unassuming medics, flight medics, post-secondary educators, biologists, attorneys, expert witnesses, ER nurses, EM physicians and medical directors, public health people, and yes, there are some egos that tend to bump heads, but there really should be all of that. Without some vigorous discussion (that doesn’t decay into a childlike tantrum), we may never see improvement. It’s fun. It’s the stuff you’ll need for ACLS EP/CCEMT-P/FPC/CCP preparation, protocol and guidelines development, tips to improve your presentations, and oh so much more. Closed groups are closed to keep the average time-clock puncher out of the way. If you can be serious about what the forum exists for and use it to sharpen your sword, then ask to be let in. Most likely, you’ll get in. Be prepared to see far more than anything you’re likely to encounter in an ordinary EMS CE course.

September 18, 2016
by The Unwired Medic
0 comments

Kilted To Kick Cancer Campaign 

Kilted To Kick Cancer LogoSeptember is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. I volunteer my efforts to support a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization called Kilted to Kick Cancer. All of September, an army of men wear kilts when practical to start the conversation, because people are naturally inquisitive about “what’s going on under there?”

This conversation starter opens the door for us to proselytize about male-specific cancers, including Testicular and Prostate Cancers. People openly talk about Breast Cancer, and you see pink ribbons and shirts all over. Rightfully so. 1 in 7 women will be diagnosed with Breast Cancer in their lifetime and 1 in 30 will die from it. The PR machine for raising awareness and funds is tremendous. A few women in my family have died of breast cancer, which can put my own daughter at risk.

As serious as those statistics are, we pay attention to them, but men don’t really talk enough about their own sex-specific risks. 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with Prostate Cancer in their lifetime and 1 in 30 will die from it. You read that correctly. The statistics are the same as for Breast Cancer.

Get Kilted - Get Checked

Get Kilted – Get Checked

What can you do about it? 

First, talk about it! Let’s make it as conversational as Breast Cancer! It is no less or more serious.

Second, get checked. The PSA blood test is far too unreliable, so you need to get the gloved finger treatment. Don’t like it? Suck it up! Women have mammograms done annually and they’re uncomfortable. Women also have pap smears annually. They endure. Man up and get in to your doctor annually and get it checked. If found early, it is very treatable.

Third, visit www.kiltedtokickcancer.org and make a tax-deductible donation for Prostate Cancer research. Click on the “Donate Now” button. You can make a one-time donation, and new this year, you can make a monthly donation. The donation billing form has a place to select a team at the top and I’d appreciate it if you select “Team Unwired Medic” so I can get some bragging rights with other fundraising teams. Thank you!

Fourth, make your own team! Get Kilted! Become a champion of this cause! Then go forth and spread the word and fund raise!

 

F.A.Q.:

Do I have to be Scottish to wear a kilt? Not at all. In fact, utility style kilts, like the ones found at Alt.Kilt are getting to be quite fashionable and a regular sight! They’re extremely popular at fairs and events, like Burning Man. There are other, inexpensive ways to get kilts, but they are not made as durable as a traditional Scottish kilt. Economy kilts can be found at many places on the web, and they’re great for wearing for less formal occasions and for daily wear. I got my Leatherneck Tartan kilt as a package with sporran, sock flashes, kilt, and shirt at Sport Kilt. The royal blue utility kilt (seen in picture above) was a project my mother-in-law helped me make and we found patterns with a quick search on the web.

What’s the difference between a kilt and a skirt? A kilt has an apron in the front and is pleated all the way around. A sporran (the bag that sometimes has tassels on it) is commonly worn with a kilt, but not always. For the rest, I will have to leave that to your imagination. 😉

What do have going on under there? It’s a kilt, not a skirt! 😉 Also, see the previous question.

Can I start my own fundraising team? Absolutely! Either use the contact form on the KTKC website, or e-mail justin@kiltedtokickcancer.org

Do you play the bagpipes? Not yet. They’re a bit pricey, at least $1400 for a decent set and I have my eye on a custom Marine Corps edition for $5,800, but I’d be happy to learn if I could get my hands on one. Playing the bagpipes is not a prerequisite for wearing a kilt, and in fact, when playing the pipes, a different style kilt specifically for pipers is worn.

 

More articles to read about male-specific cancers:

Note: My blog links will include other links to kilt makers, D-I-Y kilts instructions, and much more…

“Man up, Marines!” http://unwiredmedic.com/2015/09/03/man-up-marines/

“Let’s Talk About Your Dangly Bits” http://unwiredmedic.com/2015/09/03/lets-talk-about-your-dangly-bits/

“Are You Kilted?” http://unwiredmedic.com/2014/09/18/are-you-kilted/

The Ambulance Driver (Kelly is a great sport about all this, even helping out the underdogs, like me): http://www.ambulancedriverfiles.com/kiltedtokickcancer/

August 25, 2016
by The Unwired Medic
0 comments

EpiPens too expensive?

So it’s all over the media and social media platforms. EpiPens have jumped in price more than 400% in recent years. I was advised by my allergist to carry them in 2007, and I did for about 4 years. Then they became too cost prohibitive, and that was when they weren’t in the $400/set range. I had to stop buying them every year.

Fast forward to last year, and I suddenly have an episode of anaphylaxis and status asthmaticus. I spent a few days in the hospital and was on high-dose steroids for a couple months.  Those EpiPens were looking like a bargain now. I was able to get a set of Auvi-Q epinephrine autoinjectors, but they were later found to be ineffective at delivering full doses so they were recalled and I got EpiPens, which were now (again) without competition in the marketplace.  Lack of competition means that their dollar and fifty cents worth of drug in an auto-injector could be priced at whatever they want to price it at. Even with insurance from my primary employer, they were cost prohibitive, so I went to the EpiPen website to see if they had a copay savings card, and they did. My card reduced my copay to only $5. This year, the makers of EpiPens made the copay card even better by reducing the copay to ZERO dollars and it is good for up to twelve EpiPen sets (the two-pack, not the singles) per year. Then the card expires and you have to sign up again.

EpiPen Copay CardThe only requirements are that you have a commercial insurance plan, and you are over 18. If that fits you, then go to their website and sign up and print your card, then take it to the pharmacy. The bad news is this is for individuals, not for organizations like volunteer fire and EMS, and if you have Medicare, Medicaid, or TRICARE, you are ineligible.

https://www.epipen.com/copay-offer