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Monday, Jun 24, 2024

App Helps Paramedics Access Lifesaving Info

TECHNOLOGY: Mission Critical Protocols Platform Can Expand to Other Industries

SAN DIEGO – A paramedic in the field may have just seconds to make decisions that could save a life, but the exact procedures to follow could be buried deep in guidelines. 

A new platform launched by San Diego startup Mission Critical Protocols is intended to put those procedures at the paramedic’s fingertips, along with tools to calculate medication doses. 

CEO John Ehrhart, who still works as a flight paramedic with Mercy Air 5 in Oceanside, said he learned about the need from working in the field since 2008. 

John Ehrhart
Mission Critical Protocols

“As a flight paramedic, I have a 600-page PDF document that I’m supposed to reference in the moment when I’m providing high-acuity lifesaving care,” he said. “It’s a very tough stressful experience for the frontline clinician.” 

The situation also is tough for administrators who try to produce good content for those in the field, but often struggle to keep the information up to date, he said. 

Mission Critical Protocols’ app allows organizations to create, manage, update, and continually distribute decision support to their staff.  

“We created a cloud-based platform where you can build these documents directly on our system,” Ehrhart said, comparing the product to Google Documents but with the ability to embed decision-support components inside the text.  

Teams can collaborate to create and manage documents, which are published to an organization’s workforce with a button. Documents are automatically released to the organization’s distribution channels, such as the Mission Critical Protocols app. 

Updating Antiquated Decision Support 

The approach is significantly different from how such information now is distributed, Ehrhart noted. 

“If you talk to someone who’s not in that industry, they’d assume there’s a standard of care that all paramedics operate under,” he said. “And that’s not the case. There are more than 20,000 distinct EMS government entities, whether that’s a company or a county or a multi-county region or variations of governments underneath the state, and they all have slight changes in structure and they manage their own guidelines for paramedics.” 

San Diego County alone has more than 40 emergency medical services providers, Ehrhart said. Just in his area of North County, Oceanside, Carlsbad and Fallbrook each have their own distinct EMS providers. 

“When you have something where all these entities of varying size and resources are trying to produce their own content for decision support, they fall back on the tools they have, which are often Word, building pdf documents, and sending those out by email, putting them on a website, putting them on a shared drive or an internal drive somewhere,” he said. “As a paramedic, it’s incredibly tough to operate under that.” 

The company incorporated in the summer of 2021 and did internal development throughout 2022 before launching at the EMS World Expo last September. 

Ehrhart said research across the country found there have been companies that tried to address the decision-support problem by building tools to help clinicians in the field, but they came with an extra burdensome layer. 

Ehrhart said he used his own experience and a network of EMS employees across the country to develop Mission Critical Protocols. They also had support from the EMS strategy organization Red Flash Group in Encinitas. 

By providing access to information from other agencies and organizations, the protocol also can help a local EMS provider stay up to date with national trends and compliance regulations, Ehrhart said. 

“There may be a change in clinical guidelines from research or common practice, and that doesn’t happen all at once throughout the United States,” he said. “There needs to be a way where organizations can have their local regional guidelines, but also be able to compare that at scale to something like an industry with 20,000 organizations to make sure they’re doing best practices.” 

Subscribers Include Largest Ambulance Co. 

About 15 EMS providers have signed up for the service, which now is in all 50 states for ground EMS and critical flight care. Members include American Medical Response, the largest ambulance provider in the country, and the helicopter services Reach and Air Method. 

Locally, Bonita Fire Department, Mercy Air and Camp Pendleton are using the app. 

Subscriptions cost $24 a year per user. As an example, the 15 employees at Bonita Fire Department amount to $360 a year. 

Initial financing for the company came from what Ehrhart describes as a very small family and friends fundraiser, and he said he is contemplating doing a formal seed fundraiser to reach more customers and later doing a Series A fundraiser. 

As the company grows, the next step will be to expand the app to other industries such as utility companies, construction and health care, which Ehrhart said all have similar problems to those facing EMS providers.n 


Mission Critical Protocols
CEO: John Ehrhart
BUSINESS: Publishing platform/decision support technology
WEBSITE: mcprotocols.io
SOCIAL IMPACT: The app could help people with a medical emergency get needed care faster.
NOTABLE: The company was recognized with the 2023 EMS World Innovation Award. 


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