During the 2022 Legislative session, Governor Noem and the South Dakota Legislature approved three funding initiatives infusing up to $20 Million into Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in South Dakota.
One of these three initiatives is a program called Telemedicine in Motion. This statewide program is the first of its kind in the nation, pioneering ways to advance pre-hospital patient care while supporting first responders and EMS professionals.
Telemedicine in Motion is designed to provide telemedicine services to EMS agencies throughout South Dakota using an iPad and other hardware in the back of their ambulance, so EMS staff can reach emergency board certified emergency physicians and nurses from the Avel eCare team while on patient calls. EMS personnel can quickly call and interact with Avel eCare’s team during transit, providing patients with the care they need more quickly. On request, the Avel eCare team will use video and audio to assess the situation, augment EMS staff efforts, and answer any questions as EMTs or paramedics provide treatment.
“Avel eCare has been delivering high quality telemedicine from our hub in Sioux Falls for three decades, remarked Becky Vande Kieft, Vice President and General Manager of Emergency Medicine at Avel eCare. “Thanks to this new innovative partnership, we can deliver timely assistance to our EMS colleagues across the state, improving access to care and helping ensure these individuals have the support and resources they need to continue their lifesaving work.”
This partnership was made possible thanks to Governor Noem’s leadership and her call for increased funding to support local EMS agencies and the communities they serve, especially in rural areas of South Dakota.
“We are continually grateful for Governor Noem and the Legislature’s support of advancing EMS in South Dakota,” Marty Link, Administrator with the South Dakota Department of Health’s Office of EMS and Trauma said. “Telemedicine in Motion is saving lives, and will make a positive impact on the recruitment and retention of EMS workforce in our state by offering that layer of additional support to our EMS personnel.”
As of March 6, 2023, there are 19 sites live, with more being added each week. By May 31, 2023, the South Dakota Department of Health and Avel eCare aim to have 60 EMS agencies live with this technology.
This initiative is funded through a combination of federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and state general fund dollars at an initial investment of $1.8 million.