Knowledge Management in Locating the Patient in an Emergency Medical Service in Italy
This study examines an Emergency Medical Service in order to analyze the composite set of activities and instruments directed at locating the patient. The good management of information about the location of the emergency is highly relevant for a reliable rescue service, but this information depends on knowledge of the territory that is socially distributed between EMS operators and callers. Accordingly, the decision-making process often has to go beyond the emergency service protocols, engaging the operator in undertaking an open negotiation in order to transform the caller’s role from layman to “co-worker”. The patient’s location turns out to be an emerging phenomenon, collaborative work based on knowledge management involving two communities—the callers and the EMS operators—that overlap partially. Drawing examples from emergency calls, the study analyzes the practice of locating a patient as a complex and multi-layered process, highlighting the role played by new and old technologies (the information system and the paper maps) in this activity. We argue that CSCW technologies enable the blended use of different kinds of instruments and support an original interconnection between the professional localization systems and the public’s way of defining a position.