NORFOLK, Neb. — Norfolk Fire and Rescue's new Avel eCare telemedicine equipment, acquired through a grant from the state of Nebraska, will enable first responders to communicate directly with healthcare providers during accidents and fires.

“We can reach out and talk to other healthcare providers such as doctors, nurses, and paramedics,” said Trever O’Brien Norfolk Fire Division assistant fire chief. “It can help assist us in the back of ambulances.”

Norfolk Rescue typically responds to a scene with two to three people.

“Sometimes we’re trying to take notes on a glove or a piece of paper while we’re trying to gather information and treat the patient,” O’Brien said.

O'Brien added that having someone documenting in the background makes the process more efficient and accurate.

The system allows first responders to connect with the hospital to inform them about the patient’s condition and what to expect upon arrival. Patients can choose to accept or decline the service after being informed by first responders that a telemedicine representative will assist.

The system can also translate if the patient does not speak English.

“We’ve had that in the past where we’ve tried to use translation apps or services via phone and some of the hardest things to do is connect and link up in the dialects,” O’Brien said.

Norfolk Fire and Rescue was one of 20 rural communities and counties in Nebraska to receive the equipment.