Instant on-scene ‘999 call’ video

Trauma paramedics are using 999 callers’ mobile phone cameras to get ‘on-scene’ at serious incidents such as stabbings and road traffic collisions in seconds rather than minutes.

Dec 9, 2019
By Paul Jacques

In the first use of the technology in the capital for serious trauma incidents, paramedics in the London Ambulance Service control room can ask 999 callers to remotely access their smartphone cameras to quickly understand a patient’s injuries and help decide if resources such as London’s Air Ambulance are needed.

If a caller gives permission, they are sent a text asking them to click and accept a link, which then sends a stream from their camera phone to the control room. The platform also has technology that medics can use to measure a pulse from the video stream and instantly locate the caller.

The GoodSAM technology can also be used by the police to get an instant picture of a crime scene, while for the fire and rescue service it enables the control room to see live images of a blaze and dispatch the required appliances. The video stream can also be shared between organisations. In a road traffic collision, for example, police, ambulance and fire are often required. They can all share the video, which enables the three emergency services to collaborate more effectively.

On average, London’s Air Ambulance is dispatched to five critically-injured patients each day. The GoodSAM Instant-on-Scene platform has been used 67 times since it was introduced in October and is already assisting London’s Air Ambulance trauma paramedics help patients within seconds and prioritise resources.

Chief medical officer for the London Ambulance Service, Dr Fenella Wrigley, said: “This technology is groundbreaking and is already making an impact helping the most critically-injured people in the capital.

“Viewing the scene ‘live’ on video helps ensure specialist resources, like the London’s air ambulance, are sent to where they are needed the most. The technology helps clinicians assess the patient’s condition and enables them to provide medical advice and support while ambulance and air ambulance clinical teams are on the way to the scene.

“We will be looking at how in the future we can extend the use of this technology in other areas of our ambulance service to ensure patients get the right care from the right clinician.”

Receiving accurate information quickly from a 999 caller is vital in the first moments after a serious incident. Data shows that a patient in cardiac arrest, for example, has a 50 per cent chance of survival if treated in hospital, compared with only a nine per cent chance of survival on the streets of London.

Using the platform, medics are better able spot any symptoms that may not be visible to someone without medical training and helps provide quicker treatment to the patient as the medical professionals are effectively ‘on scene’ – virtually – before they physically arrive.

Jason Morris, flight paramedic with London’s Air Ambulance Charity, said: “In ten years of working in the control room this is one of the biggest innovations that I have seen, helping to enhance the skills that we already have.

“Being able use GoodSAM ‘Instant-on-Scene’ to see the patient at the scene of the emergency is revolutionising how we respond to life-threatening incidents. This cutting-edge technology is already improving patient outcomes helping us to get to patients quicker and, if needed, give life-saving clinical advice.”

The platform is accessible to everyone with a smartphone and does not need a downloaded app to enable the video stream.

Professor Mark Wilson, neurosurgeon and GoodSAM co-founder, explained: “Our mission is to save lives through technology, and we believe the ability to instantly see the mechanism of injury and how sick a patient looks can make a considerable difference to patient care.

“By advising the caller – and seeing, for example, how good someone’s cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) technique is – we believe we can also provide care before we get there through the people already on scene. This, with the ability to instantly locate people, could herald a significant leap forward in pre-hospital care.”

The makers of the GoodSAM have donated it to the London’s Air Ambulance Charity for 12 months and if successful could be used in other areas of the London Ambulance Service control room.

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