Emergency call button speeds helicopter dispatch

Aviation group uses video management platform for speeding up dispatch of emergency services helicopter medics.

Life flight helicopterA healthcare company in the Pacific Northwest region of America is using an innovative approach to summoning the services of emergency medical helicopters to evacuate injured patients in such incidents as road collisions and other emergency situations.

Implemented by the Aronson Security Group (ASG), the emergency dispatch button is being used for critical transport notification and covers not only helicopter services but also fixed wing aviation and ground transport equipment. The new button replaces an old system which was lacking in reliability due to an absence of feedback to the operator that the dispatch request had been successful. Using telephone lines and a modem, the operator sometimes had to back up the request with telephone calls to verify the request and obtain an acknowledgement, often wasting valuable time.

The medical transport agencies wanted to improve the process and fell to ASG to provide an answer. Having worked with the XProtect Video Management System from Milestone Systems in the past, ASG were aware of the system’s capabilities and its ability to be applied to emergency call notification tasks.

ASG’s director of product management, Steve Lowrance explained that they had the idea for using XProtect for both button input as well as for the acknowledgement output. “When the button is pushed, positive acknowledgement is confirmed by a light turning on. It’s a simple but very effective method,” he said.

Steve went on to explain that ASG also wanted to send a visual confirmation of the request back to the command centre. This could be achieved since the video management system uses the same sensor monitoring methodology for the button as it normally does for a video camera. This is done by reporting camera performance back to the base system installed in the transport company’s communications centre.

Clarification of dispatch directives

Emergency notification have now been clarified for the medical staff both at the dispatching centre and the transport hub. When the hospital needs medical transport, a member of staff presses the button, which flashes red indicating that it is sending. When it turns green, the message has been received. The Milestone rules engine processes the request by automatically sending a message to the communications centre where the notification flashes on the big screen and also gets broadcast to the centre’s phones and email. A separate communication goes to the regional director of the flight crew.

Since implementation, the hospitals which are using the system have seen numerous benefits, including simple, precise and clear operation. Also, the process of requesting transport has been reduced significantly and the costs have been reduced due to savings on phone lines.

Future integration potential

Originally, ASG supplied a proof of concept installation at two hospitals and it has since been rolled out to almost 20 different locations. Now that it has been bedded in, ASG is looking at further applications and integrations of the technology. The next step, according to Lowrance, is to provide a self-enclosed panel for hospitals which needs only a power and network communications outlet to further simplify the deployment.

Further integration capabilities can make use of the information management capabilities of XProtect, widening its scope and including additional sensor inputs to notify operators of alarm conditions such as an increase in temperature of blood stocks in refrigerators.

The system could also be installed in airports to notify stand-by crews at any time of the day or night to further improve response times.

The potential of the system is very large, according to Lowrance, who concluded, “We’re only beginning to scratch the surface of what we can do with this flexible integration product.”

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