The OpenISES Project
How does a project that is designed to make eBook Reader files become a part of a project to develop software for emergency services? When that project is used as a tool to help solve a problem in an emergency service agency.
In The Beginning...
Only a physician is allowed by law to practice medicine, yet Paramedics and EMTs provide medical care in the field. How are they allowed to do this? The answer is they practice under the authority of a physician, referred to as a Medical Director. The Medical Director is allowed to determine exactly what skills and medications the Paramedics and EMTs are allowed to provide.
A document called a Protocol Book is used by every EMS agency to outline what skills can be practiced in the field, what medications are allowed for the various types of patients, etc. These books may also be used a reference book, resulting in sections on how to perform a skill, or perhaps a medication reference.
My agency was in the process of working with the local Department of Health to develop a new protocol manual. The slate was wiped clean, and everything was looked at with a fresh eye. When the book was finished, it was rather large. It contained maps to hospitals that were out of the local area, common policies used by the department, a complete medication and skills reference section. It was thick! It easily took up every bit of a 3-inch binder... with printing on both sides of a page!!
We wanted the medics to be able to take the protocol with them, but the binder just wasn't realistic. A suggestion was made about finding a way to put the protocols on a PDA. So we began a search, and didn't find many solutions that fit our needs. We finally decided that the Palm eBook Reader was the best method to use. It was free, and the compiled file size was small. The biggest down side was the amount of work involved. The Palm Markup Language (PML) codes were initially entered by hand after the documents were converted to a plain ASCII text file.
We figured we could speed up the process by creating a small Visual Basic program that would insert the PML tags into the text file. It worked! Then we added the option of compiling the file directly from within the program. That cut another step out of the process. Then we added a link to a locally installed Palm Emulator, and now we could see how the page would look. In the end, the program worked very well, and allowed all of the protocols to be converted in a relatively short period of time. Our 3-inch binder was reduced to a little over 500k in files... including the Palm eBook reader! This allowed the protocols to fit on just about any model Palm without causing a problem.
Returning to the Project
That was almost four years ago. The project sat on the hard drive, and occasionally we would mess with it. After working on the PAD Program Manager, we decided to bring the eBook Writer back to the fore front. While it is not yet ready for 'Prime Time,' it is a workable program. We hope that you find the eBook Writer as much a help to you as it was to us.
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