Through the past few years the technology and the prevalence of the GPS for every day use has increased dramatically. In some Ambulance Services, such as the Ambulance Service of NSW, all paramedics are issued with a GPS, and given the liberty to choose when or if they need to use it.
However, with all these technological improvements, there come some pros and cons and for every paramedic who loves to use a GPS, there appears to be another paramedic who refuses to even look at the thing. There is still a strong culture in Ambulance, that if you can’t read a map, you shouldn’t be a paramedic (obviously, map’s haven’t lost their place in Ambulances yet, and if you really can’t read a map, you probably shouldn’t be an Ambo).
These are some of the pros to paramedics using a GPS:
1. Entering a location in a GPS is generally faster than looking it up in a street directory
2. A GPS will provide you with street numbers and should, ideally be able to take you to the front door of a house
3. Even if you aren’t actually using the GPS to find an address, a GPS can provide the names of the streets surrounding you (which will make life easier if some kid has ripped down all the local street signs)
4. A GPS can be much faster to use if, as a paramedic, you are out of your regular area
5. A GPS can help take out the stress of finding an address – even if it is longer by a few minutes, you know that you will generally get there and won’t have to take multiple wrong turns
6. You can scroll through, as text, the route the GPS is trying to take you – this way can choose the fastest route that you know to get to the local area, and then let the GPS guide you in through the little residential streets.
The cons of paramedics using a GPS include:
1. Sometimes the battery fails enroute to a job or the clouds block the satelite transmission (usually on the most important cases)
2. The GPS may take you a longer route than normal
3. A GPS wont provide you with information about what is comming up ahead of you (such as schools, busy intersections, etc).
4. A GPS may take you a wrong way – or it will take you on a long loop, just to do a u-turn.
Obviously, there are pros and cons with using a GPS; however, as a paramedic, who has learned the job of paramedics well before the availability of GPS for private use, I believe that they can be a useful adjunct to normal navigation -so long as the paramedic is capable of using a streed directory if the GPS system fails.