Monday, August 6, 2012

Big vending machine

I suppose it was about five years ago that I first noticed some of these big oversized vending machines in airports. A machine where you could buy something like a digital camera, a Samsung tablet computer, or an iPod. They're pretty commonplace, these days, at least at the larger hub airports.

So I already had the mental picture, about a year ago, when Lincoln Fire & Rescue EMS Supervisor Scott Wiebe was describing the use of vending machines for managing medical supplies. He'd seen one in use for this purpose in Sioux Falls (or was it Sioux City). As soon as I heard the idea, I liked it. What a great way to control inventory, ensure an accurate log, manage expiration dates and so forth.

A year later, LF&R has just installed three machines: one each at St. Elizabeth Hospital and Bryan/LGH West, and a third at Fire Station 7, which is in the shadow of Bryan/LGH East. Whereas in the past, an ambulance crew or engine company that needed to restock an item often had to drive down to HQ, find the Battalion Chief, and (hopefully) accurately complete a paper log, the process is now quite different. You're already at the hospital, so step into the paramedic's office, enter your PIN code, and get the airway, EZ IO needle, or medication you need. You've avoided the time required for the trip downtown, getting even further out of position, and burning a few gallons fossil fuel. Moreover, the machine is connected to the Internet, so our stores clerk can keep track of stock online, and supervisors can track transactions from their desk or mobile data computer.

I stopped by Station 7 to see the box last week, and it's a beast. I understand it took a few people, a few hours, a few tools, and a large vocabulary to coax it through the various doors to its resting place. For all the world, though, it looks pretty much like a standard machine in the canteen--just a little larger. I think it's big enough that you'll be hard-pressed to shake loose your M&Ms if they hang up on the fall.


Anonymous said...

Nothng to do with vending machines...but why is the Internet streaming feed of LPD down?..LFR radio transmission are stll there a specific reason?

Tom Casady said...


No idea. I don't know who the "publisher" of either feed is. Probably some scanner enthusiast who either moved, got busy with something else, or lost interest.

Anonymous said...

Who hasn't had their M&Ms hang up in a vending machine before? Thanks for starting my day off with a laugh, Tom!

Anonymous said...

I think RadioReference, the site that actually streamed that scanner feed stopped doing it, because the local provider of that feed to the streaming site was including channels other than dispatch channels. They apparently got some complaints about non-dispatch info being included during an armed standoff in NE Lincoln awhile back and the onlookers it attracted.

You're better off with a portable analog trunking scanner anyway, which can be had for about $200, since it gives you more control over what you hear, including prioritizing channels, locking out channels with a lot of training traffic, and any number of other customizations. You get your choice of any channel that isn't provoice-encrypted. Area LE agencies do have a few PV-encrypted digital channels, but they rarely use them (even for tactical incidents), probably due to gear compatibility and things of that nature.

I always figured that the big crooks (gangs, major dealers, etc) that are likely targets of no-knock warrants aren't going to rely solely on a cell phone scanner app to keep tabs on LPD/LSO anyway, so yanking the LE feed from the RR streaming site effectively accomplished nothing.

Back on topic, I first saw that sort of vending machine in Japan many years back. I was amazed at what they had available in vending machines over there at the time.

Anonymous said...

Does it help the EMTs get those drugs that are nationally in short supply, or do you just have empty slots in the machine for those?

ARRRRG!!!! said...

I wonder what you can buy from these vending machines.

Tom Casady said...


No, it sure doesn't solve that problem.

Anonymous said...

Station 7 is in the shadow of BryanLGH East.

Tom Casady said...


Yikes! I must have had a ...moment. Thanks.