Knowing how our gear moves around is at least half the battle
For the second time in the past year, one of our members went looking for an IV box and a drug box that were supposed to be in secure storage, and found them missing. Notifications were made, searches were conducted, the police were called, reports were filed, and a general sense of anxiety prevailed. This is a big deal. We were required to notify state authorities. It damages our reputation and could have other far-reaching consequences.
Part of the problem was that we had no good way to immediately determine the ID numbers of the boxes that were believed to be missing. In fact, we only knew the IV and drug boxes were there in the first place because we were told so. There was no tangible evidence available to support the claim.
Addressing a deficiency
The hospitals at least have paper logs where we enter the ID numbers of boxes that we are turning in, and boxes we are taking. After consulting with squad officers, we are now duplicating this system in our own storage areas. And there are other important and expensive things that we typically put into secure storage along with IV and drug boxes.
A way forward
We are in the process of deploying Department-standard Gear Accountability Logs to the storage areas where we usually keep IV and drug boxes. Sample materials are attached for your review. The plan is to keep one of these log books in every one of the secure storage cabinets that we use to store IV and drug boxes and other important items. Every time an IV box, drug box, or other important item moves into or out of the storage area, the person making the move should make a new entry in the log book. The Department will provide replacement log books when one gets filled up. Squads will have to make sure a working pen is available.
Rule of thumb
The rule of thumb is this: You know how you log IV and drug boxes in and out at the hospital? Do that when you find yourself moving IV and drug boxes into and out of storage, too.
- Does this mean we need to put the IV and drug box into storage any time an ambulance goes unmanned? NO! If an unmanned ambulance will be secured in the station, you can (and should) leave the IV and drug box in the ambulance, just like you always have.
- Before we take an ambulance to the city garage, and we are putting its IV and drug box into storage at the station, do we have to log what we’re storing? YES. That’s one of the main reasons we’re implementing this system.
- When we’re leaving an ambulance unmanned and outdoors because we can’t secure it in the station (like at Station 16), do we need to put its IV and drug box into storage and log what we’re storing? YES. That’s the other main reason we’re implementing this system.
Fortunately, in each case so far this year, the missing equipment has turned up later. But we cannot afford to continue reporting accountability failures to regional and state authorities. The IV and drug box exchange program is provided to us as a courtesy. We could lose our exchange privileges unless we implement better accountability.