Welcome to extreme embedded librarianship!

Welcome to extreme embedded librarianship! Join in my adventures as a medical librarian riding out with Indianapolis EMS, the largest 911 ambulance service in Indiana. The AmbulanceRidingLibrarian is devoted to all things informative, funny or odd in emergency medicine, disaster preparedness and medical librarianship.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Jean Williams Sayres Innovation Award - 2013 - MESH and CIHSLC

Congratulations to MESH and the Central Indiana Health Sciences Libraries Consortium (CIHSLC)!

Both MESH and CIHSLC received the 2013 Jean Williams Sayre Innovation Award for disaster education and information partnership in central Indiana.  This award was granted by the Midwest Chapter/ Medical Library Association for the collaboration between the disaster preparedness agency and medical information professionals on multiple projects.  These agencies created a unique partnership to provide disaster education to medical and public librarians as well as medical information resources for first responder agencies during crisis.

CIHSLC consists of medical librarians who are experienced in providing health information to both professionals and consumers, in a hospital, academic and/or clinical environment.  The consortium exists to encourage resource sharing, joint purchases, cost savings, professional camaraderie, and to create, provide and fund unique continuing education & professional development opportunities for members and non-members alike. CIHSLC is a consortium of health science libraries in Indianapolis and Central Indiana. Since its inception in 1979, CIHSLC’s membership has been active in promoting the professional development of health science librarians; advocating for professional concerns in the workplace, library community, and local/national government; advocating for access to quality healthcare information; and promoting resource sharing.

MESH consists of clinicians and non-clinicians who unite the Indianapolis healthcare community.  MESH provides training and education to first responders, including public safety partners such as the Indianapolis Fire Department, Indianapolis EMS, area hospitals, including two Level 1 Trauma Centers,  the Indiana State Department of Health and more.  MESH is a nationally recognized, innovative, public-private non-profit coalition that enables healthcare providers to respond effectively to emergency events and remain viable through recovery. MESH provides four core services to the healthcare, public health, and public safety community: (1) Education and Training; (2) Planning and Exercising; (3) Policy Analysis; and (4) Healthcare Intelligence.  MESH programs increase capacity of healthcare providers to respond to emergency events, and all programs and services are designed to support and promote improved healthcare operations every day.  MESH serves as the Medical Multi-Agency Coordination Center (Medical MACC) for Marion County, providing healthcare intelligence fusion services to the emergency management community by gathering, analyzing, and reporting on intelligence gathered from throughout the healthcare sector. In addition to providing intelligence from the healthcare sector to public sector officials, MESH provides just-in-time information and intelligence to the private healthcare sector about ongoing events and known risks in the community.

MESH was awarded a grant by the National Library of Medicine to provide enhanced access to up-to-date and accurate health and disaster preparedness information to local and state public health and emergency management agencies.  This innovative collaboration resulted in benefits to Indiana emergency response agencies and the Indiana information professional community. 

A CIHSLC librarian working group was established to advise MESH on the best evidence-based print resources to deploy with emergency responders during disaster.  These print resources will be stored with the MESH Mastfs.  A Mastf is a large army-type medical tent, capable of being deployed immediately and establishing a fully functioning mobile field hospital within 4 hours of delivery. This print collection was designed specifically with the needs of first responders and an all-hazards approach in mind.  Reference books were selected based upon established authority, and ease of use in a clinical setting. Subjects covered include primary care, emergency care, vulnerable populations including children, the elderly, the homeless and human companion animals (veterinary care for cats, dogs, etc).  

MESH also provided trainings to medical and public librarians in the state of Indiana on continuity of operations, the incident command system, healthcare leadership, emergency triage, family reunification following disasters, and emergency medical services operations.  These trainings help information professionals better understand where their skills and resources can be utilized in disaster planning, during crisis response and recovery.  Libraries have become indispensable resources during natural disasters and man-made crisis.  These trainings help librarians prepare their own institutions for catastrophic events and teach them how to help their local disaster response agencies and their communities.

An important part of the MESH healthcare intelligence program is the Daily Situational Awareness Brief, which was developed as a means to provide emergency preparedness and healthcare providers with critical information about potential threats. The Brief began publication in April 2011 and is a free, subscription-based, service in Marion County Indiana. The Brief is comprised of three sections: (1) Environmental; (2) Threat Analysis with Action Steps; and (3) Events. The Environmental section includes information on environmental conditions that can impact the health and welfare of the population. The Threat Analysis section includes information on current and/or potential threats to the healthcare sector and provides specific action steps the reader can take to mitigate, prepare, respond and/or recover from the threat/potential threat. The Event section includes a listing of local mass gathering events.  MESH consulted CIHSLC on the Brief for feedback on subjects, appropriate literacy/reading comprehension level/ writing, and additional avenues of distribution/increased readership.  Information availability of disaster planning increased by increasing total distribution of the brief and by including information professionals on this dissemination.

This partnership benefits the disaster response community, Indiana libraries and librarians, and the Indianapolis Community.

Congrats again! Many thanks to the Midwest Chapter/MLA.

I'm proud to be a part of both of these professional communities/families. You're the best!


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Webcast - Disaster Outreach

You're invited to join me for a webcast tomorrow, April 11th at 1:30pm ET.  Hear about some of my more amusing experiences and learn how information specialists can contribute to EMS.

TOPIC: The Ambulance-Riding Librarian: How Embedded Informationists Help the Responder Community

HOST:  Siobhan Champ-Blackwell. National Institutes of Health/National Library of Medicine

HOW:   To join the meeting at 1:30 pm ET, Thursday, April 11th, click on https://webmeeting.nih.gov/disinfo   
Enter your name in the guest box and click "Enter Room".
A box should pop up asking for your phone number. 
Enter your phone number and the system will call you. 
For those who cannot use this call-back feature, the dial-in information is:
Dial-In:  1-888-757-2790
Pass-Code: 745907

WHO CAN PARTICIPATE:  The Disaster Information Specialist monthly conference call and web meeting is open to everyone – please spread the word and invite others in your organizations and send to your email lists.

Hope you can join us!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Always be Prepared - an average day

EMS librarian's pledge
I never know quite what to expect at this hybrid job.  I decided a motto might help. The best I can do is borrow from the Scouts.

Always be prepared. 

In our office, we often listen to the emergency radio.  Keyboard clicks, ringing phones and 911 dispatches create our white noise.  Not long ago, during an average work week, an ambulance was dispatched to a cardiac arrest at a nearby address, when an EMS medical director sprinted into the office and asked,
"Kacy, do you want to go on a that cardiac arrest run?"

Why yes, Dr. Stevens, I would love to go on a run with you.  Which means I need to be able to immediately shift my attention from my computer and run to his emergency response vehicle.

People often ask what my typical day is like.  Usually, I'm typing away on a lit search, writing something up, working on a grant, attending meetings, completing CE or teaching PubMed, etc.  Once a week (usually Fri night, Sat or Sun) I ride out with an ambulance crew.

I thought this incident might give a better description of my average day.  It's office work punctuated by emergencies.  Medics, EMTs and firefighters sometimes describe their jobs as calm punctuated by moments of chaos. My job is similar.  Sometimes the calm is interrupted by taking a run, sometimes it's interrupted by a mass casualty incident.  This calm/chaos ratio works well for me.

I ride out/go on runs to become familiar with the specialized vocabulary, work, process and people in EMS.  A bonus for me - I get to meet some fun and dedicated ambulance crews.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Best, worst & more for an ambulance riding librarian - Q & A

Thanks so much to Nikki Dettmar for the invitation & hosting of the #medlibs tweetchat!  It was a lot of fun to talk to medical librarians and students.  So good to know about so many others out there in emergency medicine and disaster services and that the next generation of library students are excited about these fields. Thanks to Beth Whipple for the key lime pie and moral support - twitter interviews are intense!

A recap/expansion of some questions:
Q: What are the best and worst things I've seen at this job?
A:  The answer to both questions is humans.  People dial 911 during the most stressful times of their life.  Occasionally I'm saddened at the trouble that people cause for one another. Often, patients and providers remind me of the best that the human race has to offer - resilience, patience, kindness, intelligence, tolerance, common sense, hope, humor and a sense of adventure.

Q: Can someone without a clinical background become a medical librarian?
A: Yes.  Just make sure you become familiar with the terminology, process and work environment  quickly by experiencing as much as possible in your specialities and taking appropriate CE, including anything may be useful for background info - like a medical terminology course.

Q: Who are my stakeholders?
A: Medical directors of the ambulance service, ambulance chiefs, a CEO, attorneys, a director of intelligence, paramedics, EMTs, EMS educators, physicians, emergency medicine faculty, nurses, students, interns, other medical librarians and more.

Q: What types of value-added services do I provide?
A: Establishing unusual but mutually beneficial relationships, bridge building within these agencies, fast & simple digitization, grant-writing, smartphone app workshops geared for emergency medicine, help with publication, bibliographic management, research, project management, time savings for faculty & more.

Q: Do I do searches/answer questions in the back of an ambulance?
A: No.  I wasn't kidding about the motion sickness.  Trust me, the medics do not want me to try and read or type anything while riding backwards, running lights and sirens.  And I don't want to clean Kacy-yack off my Mac.  Sometimes, medics/EMTs may have a question about why they do what they do.  ("Why do our protocols call for XYZ?")  I try to answer these questions for them (after my ride-out time, via email) by finding and sending a couple of articles that demonstrate their protocols as the most recent-evidence based medicine. My time on the ambulance helps me become familiar with the specialized vocabulary, needs and work processes - plus I get to meet some fantastic folks.

Q: Any embarrassing moments since you've started there?
A:  Oh yes.  I got sick at work and was transported by my own ambulance service to our affiliated hospital system.  I got great care every step of the way, but that's not the best way to meet your new colleagues.  I prefer meeting folks when I can stand upright under my own power. It's hard to establish yourself as an expert/resource/friend when you're curled into the fetal position.

Q: Why was I interested in this job?
A: Because I was once an EMT, and my husband is a paramedic for the Indianapolis Fire Department (IFD).  I've been spending my spare time in the local fire stations since I was 16 (that's half my life now!) and I just love the people and the practical jokes.  The Indy fire/EMS community makes a second family for us, and we fit in pretty well with this weird & wonderful bunch.  This seemed like a once-in-a life opportunity, and though I miss my colleagues at the Indiana University Medical Library, I wouldn't trade this experience for anything.  The work is unique, and I have the chance to make an impact on emergency healthcare and services for the people of my hometown.  Plus - come on - do I have to say it?  I'm a librarian that gets to ride in an ambulance!  Woo hoo!

Thanks to all the enthusiastic supporters I got to tweet with!  I'm lucky to be a part of the library community - you make me feel right at home, even though I'm no longer located in a library.  It's great to know that there is such a large network of dedicated information professionals full of curiosity and adventure! I feel like I'm not alone in this rather odd job - I know you're with me in spirit. After a long day of grant-writing, I will remember your kindness and smile before I pass out from exhaustion.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Got a question for the ambulance riding librarian? Ask via twitter! - this Thursday

I've been so busy, haven't had much time to post recently.  But if you have questions for me, consider asking them directly - this Thursday, March 14th, 6pm Pacific/9pm Eastern via twitter - Nikki Dettmar (@eagledawg) is hosting a chat.  Hashtag #medlibs.

Want to know who my stakeholders are?  What types of value-added services I provide? The best and worst things I've seen at this job? Ask and find out!  Don't have a question, but want to read along to see how many bad jokes I can make in 140 characters?  Then please join us.  Not a librarian?  That's great too!  EMS and all other professions & related questions welcome.  Chat with you Thursday!   Kacy Allgood - @AmbRidLibrarian .

Read more about Twitter chats here.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Roles for Librarians in Disaster Communications - Disaster Communication Summitt

You're invited to the National Network of Libraries of Medicine Disaster Communication Summit on March 7th-8th at the University of Illinois, Chicago.  The ambulance riding librarian will be speaking on her experiences on the roles that librarians (any type of librarian) can play in disaster communications.

This summit is divided into three parts, including a hands-on workshop, a Medical Library Association Continuing Education class, and a series of presentations on the roles libraries/librarians can play before, during, and after a disaster, with emphasis on communication strategies. To learn more about and register for one or all three parts of the summit, go to:

See you soon!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Indianapolis EMS Grieves Loss of Two Crew Members

My thoughts go out to my EMS family.  This weekend, Indianapolis EMS lost two dedicated crew members in the line of duty.  For my library colleagues who are reading this and are not familiar with how the EMS & Fire services tend to create a second family, please let me explain.  Many fire and ambulance shifts are either in 12, 24, 48 or 72 hours.  Crews eat, sleep and live together for long shifts, and sometimes, for many years.  911 never closes, so crews (and their families) spend many holidays together, cooking big meals and gathering around very large tables.    Spending that much time together creates lasting bonds.  Firefighters & EMS often refer to their colleagues as brother or sister.  Colleagues become a second family.

Thank you to the Indianapolis Public Safety community, as well as all the citizens and public officials who have recognized the sacrifice of two good-hearted young men.

Update:  Thanks to all in the Indiana library community who expressed sorrow at this loss, or who passed along the photos, comments and good will that were posted at many of the Indianapolis-area emergency departments.  Your thoughts were much appreciated.  Thank you supporting your local heros.  Thank you for helping those who spend their time helping others.