UPDATED: London’s Air Ambulance to use 4G in trauma team navigation

Alex Walls
April 24, 2013

London’s Air Ambulance will use Everything Everywhere’s 4G network to cut down times in getting trauma teams to critically injured people.

The charity organises trauma teams, including a paramedic and a specially trained senior trauma doctor who could perform advanced medical operations such as open chest surgery, to critically ill patients, and in what it’s calling a ‘strategic partnership’ with Everything Everywhere (EE), it would develop new systems using 4G technology to cut down on time taken to get to the patient.

This strategic partnership meant the charity had access to EE’s 4G technology at no charge, the network said.

This would include using navigation apps on tablets in response cars, using the country’s only 4G network currently, something that was already being used by the charity, it said.  While in the stone ages, an A to Z map book was used to plot routes, with sat nav as back up, the navigation apps allowed a direct route faster than flipping through a map book.  Sat navs and apps using 3G had been trialled but had failed when it came to refreshing maps when travelling at high speed. Using 4G enabled apps could save up to two minutes on dispatch times, the charity said.

EE was also working on an app to reduce time to get aircraft off the ground; replacing data on paper which was then run on foot to a helicopter to transmission of information to an on-board iPad.  This had not been implemented in the past because the charity currently had one helicopter, chief executive Graham Hodgkin said.

“Given our aviation dispensations, our flights are highly regulated by authorities such as the Civil Aviation Authority and the use of additional on-board technology in the aircraft has to be carefully implemented and managed.”

Data that was transmitted was typically the Air Traffic Control sector reference, location of incident and  flight distance among other things, Hodgkin said

London’s Air Ambulance chair of trustees and medical director Dr Gareth Davies said the charity attracted senior doctors from all over the world, so their street by street knowledge of London was not necessarily minute.

 ‘It’s a big change from the current reliance on map books. And unlike using a map book, if you do go wrong, the app corrects you immediately.”

 Dr Davies said take offs would potentially be minutes sooner with the new app.

“Our patients have started the dying process as soon as their injury has occurred. Many of them don’t have a pulse, so the time you have to save a life is very short and saving seconds wherever we can all adds up and makes a difference to their outcome.”

EE was also developing apps for the charity to manage its data, checklists and paperwork to increase efficiency, London’s Air Ambulance said.  The charity’s standard operating procedures, used by other air ambulances worldwide, would be hosted online using a cloud application developed by EE as well, it said.

EE said there was no defined timeline for the apps’ release.

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