London’s Air Ambulance to use 4G to enhance service

LAA ee2_879London’s Air Ambulance has formed a strategic partnership with mobile operator EE to develop new systems that will use 4G technology. The partnership is aimed at enhancing the service provided by the capital’s air ambulance and cutting vital minutes off mission times for the benefit of patients. The service’s trauma team already started using tablet PCs with navigation apps, using EE’s 4G network, in rapid response cars, which are used at night to deliver a senior trauma doctor and paramedic to the patient.

While the paramedic drives, navigation falls to the doctor. Previously a traditional A to Z map book was used to plot the route, with a sat nav as back up. Now the address can be directly inputted into the navigation app on the tablet, which generates a direct route without having to flip through pages on the hard copy map. This could potentially save up to two minutes on dispatch time. Sat navs and navigation apps using 3G networks have been previously trialled but when travelling on high speed through London, the ability of non-4G services to refresh mapping have failed.

Dr Gareth Davies, Medical Director and Chair of the Trustees of London’s Air Ambulance, said, “London’s Air Ambulance attracts senior doctors from all over the world, so their street-by-street knowledge of the capital may be sketchy. 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.”

In addition, EE is currently looking to develop an application that will reduce the time it takes to get the aircraft airborne. Instead of gathering the data on paper, then running on foot with the paper to the helicopter, it is hoped that the new system will transmit information wirelessly, and instantly, to an on-board iPad, potentially shaving off seconds or even minutes to take-off time. Dr Davies said, “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.”

In addition to saving minutes on dispatch time, EE is developing apps for London Air Ambulance Service to manage its data, checklists and paperwork to increase efficiency in the workplace. The service’s Standard Operating Procedures, which are used by other air ambulances worldwide, will also be hosted online using a bespoke cloud application that is also being developed by EE technicians.