Image: Dr Gareth Davies demonstrates the app in a rapid response car (LAA)
London’s Air Ambulance (LAA) has announced software upgrades that reduce mission-planning time and assist in en route communications and navigation. A new app is helping to cut emergency dispatch times for the charity’s helicopter by up to two minutes. In some cases, said LAA, the new app enables it to scramble a road response team, which operates when the helicopter is unable to fly or the patient can be reached more quickly by road, in under 10 seconds. The service began working in partnership with a mobile network provider in 2013, in order to reduce reliance on paper-based mapping and dispatch information gathering.
Running on tablet computers, the app automatically provides the service’s trauma teams with incident information via the 4G mobile network. Details sent through the app include situation information and navigation details, with real-time flight and route data. This, said LAA, allows the charity’s doctors and paramedics to focus on getting to patients as quickly and safely as possible. It also provides a mobile connection to the London Ambulance Service emergency operations centre. As an example of the advantages the new system affords, it has removed the need for a crew member to manually enter map references, incident information and activation times into a computer and print out a data sheet.
According to LAA, the new app could help it to save the lives of hundreds of critically injured patients across London each year.
Dr Gareth Grier, consultant with London’s Air Ambulance, commented: “Out of the 5,000 emergency calls that are received by the London Ambulance Service every day, we typically see six patients whose injuries are so critical that they need additional specialist treatment on scene before they get to hospital. Even reducing the time we take to get to our patients by 10 seconds, could, in some instances, mean the difference between life and death.”
LAA also recently adopted a new tablet-based flight mapping system, PANDA by Airbox Systems, which includes power line and obstacle avoidance, as well as aircraft tracking. The system has been customised to allow searching by A-to-Z (paper) map number, and to facilitate interactions with Heathrow airport.
Captain Neil Jeffers, LAA chief pilot, noted: “The app provides increased street fidelity, enhanced situational awareness with its alerting for airspace and enhanced London mapping. The A-to-Z search facility assists the assessment of potential landing sites on the move.” These elements, he said, help the service’s crews to save valuable time and effort.