An urgent response

The Lifeline Rescue ambulance service in the Philippines is shaving ours off response times thanks to a new system developed by Tramigo on Deutsche Telekom's network. Kate O'Flaherty reports

An urgent response

Lifeline Rescue ambulance service is cutting down emergency vehicles’ response times with a Tramigo system on the Deutsche Telekom network.

Response time is critical to Lifeline Rescue, the private medical rescue service with 82,000 members, covering 815,000 people in the Philippines.

At the heart of Lifeline, a 24-hour dispatch centre known as the ‘Red Room’ receives incoming calls and dispatches the nearest ambulance to the scene, guiding the vehicles through the often sticky traffic with alternate routes.

The new Deutsche Telekom and Tramigo M2M-based system makes the process quick and straightforward, so Lifeline can eliminate the time it once took to locate the nearest vehicle. 

The Tramigo T22 GSM and GPS tracking device uses a Cinterion GSM modem and a Fastrax GPS module (see specification information box), enabling it to show the location, speed and direction of the vehicle in an easy to read format. It contains up to 10,000 landmark points of information and rich point of interest data on cities, towns and villages, tailored to the region.

Ambulance tracking

Before the new system was deployed, it was difficult to track Lifeline Rescue ambulances already on the road and finding the one closest to an emergency scene was a challenge.

‘It’s a small terminal device for ambulance crews, for which you need a hardware port, connectivity and a backhaul system,’ says Jürgen Hase, vice president of M2M Competence Center at Deutsche Telekom AG.

The Tramigo T22 system replaces an old and bulky landline-based SOS. Lifeline had previously looked at several other systems, including a portable satellite tracking system and a server based tracking solution, but these had proved too costly and complicated. 

Because lives are at risk, knowing where the ambulances are at all times is critical, says Michael Deakin, general manager of Lifeline Rescue, who uses M1 Move Smartphone software to check his fleet.

‘When we started out, we were doing this via radio and fingers planted on a large map on the wall,’ he says. ‘Now that we have more vehicles, clients and a larger area to cover, we needed a more advanced way of locating our ambulances.’ 

Quicker response

Thanks to the integrated landmark database, the new technology allows quick response time, even if the caller does not have an exact address and can only describe the surrounding buildings or neighbourhood. 

‘A big problem we had in the past was that the people calling us were not able to tell where we are needed. The caller might be in a state of shock and not very coherent over the phone, or the caller may be a bystander who is not familiar with the neighbourhood. We even have had cases where the security guard of a building cannot recall where they are calling from because they are panicking,’ says Deakin.

The T22 units installed in the ambulances also have automotive remote microphones, which allows the control centre to listen in to what is happening in the back of the ambulance. This enables a host of additional services that can improve the quality of care administered by the emergency response team while ensuring compliance with legal regulations.

Legal protection is down to the solution’s ability to provide crucial proof of employees’ actions during emergency situations. Hase says: ‘You are legally on the safe side as the system logs everything. It logs conversations on board and even monitors how drivers are driving.’

Device flexibility

In cases where the injuries are so bad that Lifeline has to start medical treatment already in the ambulance, an audio channel to the Red Room is opened, recording everything that happens. This means Lifeline does not have to rely on memory alone when reciting to the hospital the history of treatments already administered, Deakin says.

The system works with any phone or tablet device, giving it much-needed flexibility. Hase says: ‘It’s an open system in that you can use any phone or tablet device - such as Apple, or Samsung. The tablet makes the data visible, combined with the on-board unit connected to the ambulance and data over the mobile network.’

‘It’s analytics and big data - I believe that’s the next story in M2M,’ Hase says, adding: ‘You can combine this in the long term with smart cities; it’s about getting information about what’s going on in the city.’




Deutsche Telekom and German hospital offer pilot stroke solution


Deutsche Telekom and the Charité University Hospital in Berlin, Germany, are working on a pilot project to treat strokes, using the Stroke Emergency Mobile (STEMO). 

The pilot comes in advance of a mass roll out of the optimised system. The emergency vehicle is equipped with a computer tomograph and a telemedicine connection. A CAT scan is carried out on the spot to determine the type of stroke it is, with Deutsche Telekom transmitting the encrypted and prioritised data by UMTS. Later, this will be upgraded to LTE.

Using the data, Charité radiologists and neurologists can make a precise diagnosis that helps the emergency medics to choose the most suitable hospital for further treatment.

‘Physical devices are connected to the tomograph – a modem is directly connected and the crew have a small on-board unit to see data coming in and going out,’ says Jürgen Hase, Vice President of M2M Competence Center at Deutsche Telekom AG (pictured). ‘They can then share data from the hospital back to the car, using the mobile network.’

The connected emergency vehicle is able to start treatment around 30 minutes sooner than was previously possible. The vehicle also optimises the routes for the fastest way to the hospital, avoiding any traffic jams. 

‘They have the data in the ambulance – and each minute helps the patient,’  Hase says, adding:  ‘We are seeing more  and more of these types of vehicles with a mobile connection to hospitals.’

Written by Wireless magazine
Wireless magazine

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