Whitehall Police, Medics Now Using Tablets When Responding To Runs

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Whitehall police cruisers and medics are going high-tech.

The city says new tablets will help them respond to crimes and emergencies more efficiently, while saving thousands of dollars a year.

The next time a paramedic goes on an emergency run in Whitehall, they'll be carrying more than a stretcher when they arrive.

"They just snap right out there, much like an iPad," says Whitehall Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Chris Menapace.

They'll be taking a Tough Pad computer. It's a smaller version of the bulkier computer they use to work with.

More importantly, the city says this portable computer is saving tax payer money.

"Across our fleet, we're talking about $52,000 over the next three years, says Menapace. That's in replacement costs for the fire department.

But there's more to these computers than savings.

The computers can take pictures and videos of accident scenes and send them to the hospital before the patient arrives.

"We can take a snap shot of the car. We take a snap shot of the patient compartment, and they can actually see how bad the metal was crinkled. Did it really wrap around the tree?" he says.

He says that gives doctors a better understanding of the patient needs, and the result can be better patient care.

Even in cases where a patient isn't injured, the computer can help document living conditions to help someone find a safe place to live.

"All of a sudden, when adult protective services gets involved, they can see firsthand before they even assign a case worker to it what we're dealing with, and it adds instantaneous credibility and it helps puts things in motion to take care of that patient," he says.

In the case of police officers, the computers photo and video capabilities can help add detail to a criminal case file that officers didn't have before and possibly solve a case quicker, all the while saving taxpayer money at the same time.

"They should appreciate us for watching out for their pennies," he says.

Whitehall says the computer will save even more money for the police department.

It estimates that figure to be about $56,000 a year in computer replacement costs over three years.