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Mobility in Today’s Military: The Benefits of Tablets Beyond the Flightline

In an  earlier post, we spoke about how the military is using rugged mobility to maintain air power on the ground. However, today’s technology challenges and mobility opportunities aren’t exclusive to aircraft maintainers.

Rugged Mobile Computing for the ground and for the air

Heavy machinery is critical to building and maintaining military base infrastructure. Armored vehicles protect troops in transit. And supply vehicles are central to refueling everything from troops to tankers in the line of duty. That means that any maintainer responsible for these ground assets stands to benefit from purpose-built mobile computers. At the same time, military aviation has changed within the last 10 years. Not just because of the introduction of new airframes into global fleets, but because of the introduction of new electronic-based flight procedures. Military pilots need an all-in-one mobile computing device that won’t crack, break, shutdown under pressure – either on the ground or at 40,000+ feet in the air. Mobilized ground troops also need reliable data signals for field dispatch, GIS/mapping/plotting, information access and transmission tracking in some of the most remote places in the world. Consumer devices, such as iPads, simply can’t perform consistently under such pressure, and not every military-grade PC is mobile enough to serve troops in that capacity in the field, in the air, or at sea. Any computing technology introduced today must be able to support the ongoing situational assessment requirements of defense forces; reliably relay intel to and from the field; and deliver the right level of tactical expertise to troops regardless of their training, mission, or location.

That is why rugged tablets have proven time and again to be a mission-critical tool for the military – and a lifeline for combat troops overseas. We received a call from a U.S. Special Forces member not too long ago whose life was literally saved by the Xplore XC6 M2 ultra-rugged tablet he had in his hand during a Middle East mission.

His Humvee was hit by an IED and he was thrown 100 feet while holding his XC6. After he hit the ground, he managed to send a GPS secure message with a picture out to fellow soldiers so that they would be able to determine GPS coordinates to come in for a rescue. He was in the middle of nowhere. After he sent the message, he realized that he was bleeding out of his front stomach area. He tied a cargo strap around his midsection and secured the XC6 tablet to his backside for support. Then, while in excruciating pain, he managed to crawl back to the Humvee where he singlehandedly engaged in an intense gun fight with 10 other enemy men, since he was the only conscious man in his unit. He was rescued soon after.

Xplore rugged XC6 tablets for military mobile applications

While recovering in the hospital, doctors questioned him about the ordeal and how he survived. He was told that he had broken his back; it was fractured in seven places. He shared with them how he had sent a secure message for help using the Xplore XC6 ultra-rugged tablet and then how he strapped it to his back while he crawled, fought and rolled his way back to safety and eventual rescue. When the military medics retrieved him in the field, they said the tablet’s display lit him up like a flashlight. They were surprised he was alive let alone that the tablet was still working. The doctors told him that if he hadn’t had the presence of mind to strap the tablet to his back that he might not have ever walked again.

The Xplore team honors this servicemember, and all the other veterans, who have sacrificed so much for their country. That is why we are working so diligently to ensure that military and veterans organizations have access to the mobile technologies they need to serve and protect these men and women who protect us.

Though the benefits of mobile technologies are clear in military training, combat and maintenance environments, the truth is that rugged tablets’ “lifesaving” role extends far beyond the field – and lasts long beyond the final active mission. Just ask those working in military healthcare environments.

The United States Air Force has been using rugged tablets for years to facilitate coordinated medical care within its hospitals and clinics, and the Veterans Administration (VA) has been using the military-grade tablets for bedside patient applications. That is because military-grade mobile computers have proven to be the ideal Mobile Clinical Assistant. Not only do they facilitate rapid data entry and retrieval at the point of care within federal privacy standards, but they provide a heightened – and dependable – level of security for wireless digital communications among patients and providers.

United States Air Force of Australia Xplore rugged mobile tablets for healthcare

In fact, rugged tablets are the best way to ensure the “five rights of medicine administration” are properly applied in busy military healthcare environments: giving the right drug to the right patient in the right dose by the right route at the right time. The integrated barcode and RFID scanners allow for automatic patient and drug verification on the same screen where the patient’s electronic health records (EHR) are created, updated and stored. Built-in cameras aid with visual documentation of patient care and healing, and the Smart Card/CAC readers allow for fast, simple and highly secure system access by clinical staff and physicians. Plus, these rugged tablets can withstand frequent disinfection with bleach and other chemicals to ensure user compliance with infection control protocols.

Even the Royal Australia Air Force Association (RAAFA) has concluded that moving their administration requirements from traditional static ‘office’ locations to a mobile ‘on-the-go’ rugged tablet-based system for its aged-care facilities has significantly increased clinicians’ productivity and ultimately increased the quality of care for its military veteran patients. The military-grade tablets provide a systemic approach to achieving and sustaining advanced care documentation that is accessible and practical for all staff to use (as opposed to relying on a few staff who are good at documentation). It also enables the veterans-focused organization “to provide the highest standard of care to all patients, while maintaining the dignity, privacy, independence and comfort of each.”

At the end of the day, that is one of the most underscored values of mobile technology in military environments. Though seemingly minute in the scheme of the military’s massive technology arsenal, rugged tablets can – and do – play a mission-critical role in the safety, security and health of every serviceman and woman. These tablets enable the men and women working to preserve our freedom to persevere in their mission – and long after their time in service. These tablets enable us to give military members the care and support they need and deserve.

As one of the many veterans working at Xplore, I want to thank you to all of those currently serving in the military, and those who have served in the past. We are grateful for your sacrifice and remain committed to improving your livelihood and rights, just as you have protected ours.

Check Out Part 1 of this Blog