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Polk Fire to Use RFID in Medication Tracking


Published on Feb 3, 2020


Polk County Fire Rescue will begin adding radio-frequency identification technology to its fleet, which will assist in inventory tracking and is projected to save an about $20,000 to $30,000 a month.

As Polk County Fire Rescue continues to upgrade the technology used throughout the division, partnering with Silent Partner Technologies to add and test a system that would greatly assist fire rescue’s logistics department in providing “real-time” tracking of the supplies on each of its trucks was obvious.

“Adding Radio Frequency Identification as a control mechanism will add several positives to our Fire Rescue Department,” Polk Fire Chief Robert Weech said. “Not only will it simplify and create greater accuracy from equipment and supplies tracking point of view, but it will also allow us to increase budgetary effectiveness with the potential to save tax payer dollars. RFID technology is a long time coming to the fire rescue industry and I am happy to be part of applying it within Polk County Fire Rescue. Our logistics manager, Tera Knickerbocker, has done an outstanding job researching and implementing this project to vastly improve how our fire rescue team operates on a daily basis.”

This savings will be possible by allowing Polk Fire’s logistics department the ability to scan and track every item that enters and leaves its perspective place on the rescue unit, from life-saving drugs to the equipment used to intubate patients.

With this system in place, fire rescue units will be able to be sufficiently stocked in accordance to the frequency that each individual item is used. For example, if Narcan (naloxone) nasal spray, a medication with a 90 day shelf-life, is more frequently used on trucks servicing certain zones and less on other trucks, then the supply can be adjusted and customized. This will avoid product expiration and waste in those units that do not used the drug as often.

RFID technology uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags that are attached to objects. Each RFID tag consists of a tiny radio transponder; a radio receiver and transmitter. When scanned by either a hand-held reader or one of several strategically placed antennas in an apparatus, the tag transmits its digital data, which in this case is an identifying inventory number. This data is then sent to IntelliView, a specialized inventory program which tracts inventory numbers, offering a “real-time” view of both the truck and overall division’s inventory. PCFR logistics personnel will then be able to access complete inventory data from anywhere in the world with internet access via computer or smart phone.

“This new program and process will provide the fire rescue division with stronger accountability and command of our assets, medications, and equipment,” said Polk Fire Logistics Manager Tera Knickerbocker. ”As the science of firefighting and the knowledge of fire behaviors evolve, so do other aspects of fire service administration. RFID technology now gives Polk Fire Rescue a way of advancing our system in accountability and tracking. This process will allow us to decrease costs, allowing better use of taxpayer dollars, as well as providing a new and improved way of accounting for our equipment, medications and overall inventory.”