Emergency Services Are Turning to the Cloud With Smart Ambulances
Emergency services are in high demand. There are approximately 240 million 9-1-1 calls made in the United States each year, according to the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), and the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a “much faster than average” rate of growth for EMTs and paramedics through 2014. However, more vehicles on the ground and more EMTs behind the wheel can only do so much. This is why emergency services are turning to cloud-enabled smart ambulances to help save lives.
One of the biggest problems for EMTs and paramedics once they’ve taken a call, secured a patient and are on the way to the hospital is communication. While they already can relay basic data en route, it’s almost impossible to provide a moment-by-moment analysis, which is critical for making an early diagnosis during the “golden hour” (the time period when lives are the most likely to be saved).
The EU’s Smart Ambulance project hopes to change this paradigm by equipping ambulances with cloud-based ICT solutions. This will facilitate direct communication between hospital staff and EMTs rather than routing data through traditional emergency call channels.
EMTs and paramedics also face the challenge of being first on-scene at challenging and sometimes violent situations. As a result, there’s a need for improved in-vehicle security to ensure the safety of both patients and staff.
Network security firm Lanner has developed a range of IP cameras that use Power-Over-Ethernet (PoE) ports to provide continuous footage of what’s happening inside ambulances when they are on their way to the hospital. This improves patient diagnosis through direct observation and provides a record of all actions taken by EMTs.
The proof-of-concept smart ambulance recently debuted in Australia is another solution. According to Manufacturers’ Monthly, the smart ambulance relies on a cloud-based vehicle intelligence system, known as ACETECH, that enables fleet managers to receive real-time data about its operational status, current location, driving behavior, fuel consumption and system functionality. If ambulances don’t arrive on-schedule or experience sudden systems failure, ACETECH can pinpoint the problem and send out help.
While static patient data and vehicle GPS location are key pieces of the life-saving equation, the biggest leaps forward in cloud-based ambulance solutions focus on collaboration. A white paper from Intel discusses the development of mobile cloud services that are designed specifically for paramedics and EMTs. Engineering director Scott Braun of Cornerstone Integration created a hybrid cloud module called the Mission Critical Media (MCM) solution. It enables emergency medical staff to connect with ERs in real time via streaming video or voice processing. This will help hospital staff prepare for specific trauma needs, and it will allow EMTs to conduct en-route assessments with hospital experts and contact a patient’s primary care physician to gain a deeper understanding of their history and risk factors.
EMTs and paramedics face difficult tasks. They have to get patients safely to the hospital, communicate injury information and attempt to perform a basic diagnosis in the critical golden hour. The rise of cloud-based, smart ambulances addresses this need for improved communication, better security and total collaboration to streamline patient care and save more lives, more often.