Guesswork Isn’t an Option When Tracking Ambulance Supplies


When you call 911, you expect the medical response team that comes to your aid to have the pertinent tools, pharmaceuticals, and equipment, needed for the task at hand. Inventory control of ambulance supplies is a crucial part of EMS operations. Monitoring, tracking, stocking, and managing all of the items needed for onsite patient care is a task that should be taken on each shift by the paramedics or EMS personnel who will be coming to your rescue.

Any time the alarm goes off for a medical call, responding paramedics have to prepare for the worst. Each call is different and requires a specific set of tools and supplies to help the patient. From small items like gloves and gauze pads to life-saving tools like automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and pharmaceuticals, the supplies on ambulances will help save your life. So it comes as no surprise that you want the ambulance coming to help you to be fully stocked with everything needed to take care of you.

EMS divisions with a reliable, effective, and efficient inventory management system can help reduce costs, limit waste, improve employee relations, and limit liability. It can also positively impact patient care by having the right supplies and drugs available when needed.

Ambulance Supplies and Theft

Unfortunately, theft from within has become an issue for some EMS systems when it comes to equipment and pharmaceuticals.

For example, an employee of an ambulance service was arrested and accused of stealing ambulance equipment to sell online. The employee, who was a logistics shift leader in the supply room, was arrested and charged with embezzlement and receiving stolen property. Albuquerque Ambulance took an inventory of their equipment and discovered 87 pieces of equipment were missing from the Albuquerque Ambulance equipment room. Detectives also searched the employee's eBay account and found that the seller had listed 52 items/medical instruments on his selling history. Seven of those items had already sold for a total of $4,040.50.

A Kansas City paramedic and firefighter pleaded guilty to stealing and using potent painkilling drugs while on duty. He removed vials of morphine and fentanyl from locked safes on ambulances, after taking the drugs from their vials, he replaced them with another substance and placed the containers back in the ambulances.

This is what can happen when the supplies on ambulances aren’t accurately and consistently tracked. Items that are stolen often fall through the cracks. It's not a major issue until an audit is implemented, or someone just happens to “notice” that things keep disappearing. That’s why tracking every item is so important.

Barcoding Ambulance Supplies

Using barcodes and a built-in barcode scanner that can be used from one’s own smartphone or tablet to track and manage ambulance supplies has become more common. The action allows EMS supervisors, as well as the front-line team, to streamline the process by enabling them to track the life-cycle of each item. It starts from the initial receipt of an item at the warehouse, the distribution of the item into the supply chain, and the use of the item for patient care.

All the data recorded by the scanner is uploaded and stored in one central location that can be viewed and monitored by allocated users, anytime, from anywhere. Procurement departments can see when items, such as stretcher sheets, are in short supply across the department and know when they need to order more.

Asset Tracking and Ambulance Supplies

Electronic asset tracking is also useful for tracking and verifying all of the life-saving equipment that is checked in/out to a station or vehicle. Due to the high cost of many pieces of equipment, it’s important that all involved with the EMS process know where each item is and its maintenance history.

If an asset requires maintenance, the user can view recorded data about its history and see if this is a recurring problem or a regularly scheduled upgrade. Ambulances should never be without vital life-saving equipment, so personnel must check each piece of equipment at the start of their shift to ensure it’s in proper working condition. If a piece of equipment needs to go out of service, a replacement needs to be obtained and put into service, and it should be tagged and tracked so others are aware where replacement equipment might be.

Asset and inventory tracking software can also help departments create a web-based inventory check sheet to conduct a count of on-hand supplies. Customizable fields can be created to include a large array of data, such as expiration dates on medical supplies or pharmaceuticals, or inventory numbers on all medical supplies on the ambulance and in reserve.

This means that the numbers are transparent and up-to-date, and there is no more guesswork. On-hand inventory is balanced against par stocking levels and alerts can be added to automatically generate supply requests.

Asset Panda’s highly configurable platform is a cost-effective solution that allows EMS departments to customize and define information fields that are pertinent to their particular work. Data is secured with access parameters and can be limited to areas such as storage rooms, vehicles, fire stations, ambulances, clinics, shelters, and the like.

Maintain, manage, and preserve the medical stock. Centralize material management across ambulances. Eliminate duplicated data entry errors between shifts and personnel. Run advanced reports to quickly determine which products are needed at each fire station or ambulance.

Asset Panda ensures your EMS department has the information required to access important medical assets when they are needed. Designated users can scan each asset with a built-in barcode scanner to access full histories, generate reports, track maintenance schedules, or submit help tickets on every asset scanned in. Users can utilize the software online, or with our free Mobile App, and there is need to purchase additional hardware.


Audra London

Audra London, founder of Conceptual Communications, LLC, has over 10 years of writing, public relations and marketing experience and serves as an expert on press releases, media relations, feature writing, web content and marketing copy.

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