Emergency services can now instantly assess patients from afar using live video streaming technology.
A new feature on the GoodSAM platform enables medics to initiate a video link with 999 callers, allowing them to determine the severity of casualties before arriving on scene.
Another feature, still in the trial stages, will allow crews to measure a patient’s pulse using just a video stream, the developers said.
Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance and Great North Air Ambulance have already begun using the technology, while GoodSAM is in talks to introduce it with other services.
How does it work?
The “instant on scene” technology works by sending a text message to the 999 caller’s phone.
By opening a link, the caller sends their location, grants access to their phone’s camera and the video streaming begins.
The 999 call can continue while the video is streaming, allowing emergency services to provide advice and assess the patient.
The technology, which works on any smartphone, does not store the video to the device and does not require an app.
GoodSAM co-founder Professor Mark Wilson said the new technology is “unbelievably simple” to integrate into existing systems and believes it could be used across emergency services in the UK.
What's the point?
When a call handler is assessing a 999 call, a precise description of the casualty's situation is extremely important, but as Professor Richard Lyon says, “callers usually aren’t medically trained so information isn’t always accurate."
Professor Lyon, associate medical director at Kent, Surrey and Sussex air ambulance, where the technology is already being used, said the improved accuracy is "game-changing".
Another advantage of the technology comes into play when a control room receives multiple calls about multiple casualties at the same location, for example in the aftermath of a car crash.
Professor Lyon said: “Being able to see the scene of the incident, not only the patients, but how many cars are involved for example, is game-changing in helping us decide what additional resources we might need to send, assessing who we might need to treat first or what medication we might need to give.”
The technology allows call handlers to view each individual casualty and assess which needs care most urgently, bringing clarity to an often confusing situation.
Co-founder Professor Wilson said: “This information can radically improve resource management – prioritising patients who otherwise might not have been thought of as that urgent.”
He added: “Being able to see the patient and the scene without them having to download a video chat app, and getting a reading of their vital signs, dramatically improves remote assessment of illness."
GoodSAM is an app that works with over 50 emergency services worldwide, to alert off-duty medics and those trained in life support to emergencies nearby.