Vanderbilt LifeFlight of Nashville, Tennessee, US, has developed a new app that allows for emergency responders to request a helicopter at the tap of a button. The app also uses computer-aided software to send the emergency responders’ location and other helpful information directly to dispatch personnel at LifeFlight’s Communications Center, said the helicopter air ambulance provider.
Using the app, developed in partnership with LifeFlight’s computer-aided dispatch vendor Flight Vector, users can request a helicopter and also receive push notifications from LifeFlight on education and upcoming training events, access to LifeFlight’s training event calendar, a hospital directory and a landing zone guide.
Dr Stephan Russ, associate professor of emergency medicine and associate chief of staff at Vanderbilt University Adult Hospital (VUAH), said: “We have worked for more than a year to develop this app and its rich interoperability with our dispatching and flight tracking software.” Russ added that discussions for an app had been underway for several years, but always concluded with no efficient and reliable way for the Communications Center to receive requests. “We considered a variety of ways to receive calls, including text messaging,” he explained. “But none of those ways provided an efficient and reliable way to actively receive emergency flight requests.” The breakthrough came when the software company agreed to marry the app with its flight-dispatching system – so that the request became an integrated part of the dispatch process. “It’s seamless and a time saver,” Russ said.
Tapping the ‘flight call’ button on the app sends users’ information to Vanderbilt LifeFlight that includes their GPS co-ordinates, name and organisation, along with any other information the user types into a text box, said the organisation. This information pops up as a new ‘mission strip’ on a computer screen at the LifeFlight Communications Center, where personnel monitor the dispatch software. A visual and voice alert that a new flight request has been received by a mobile app user is also triggered.
Once the aircraft has been launched, the emergency responder who made the request will receive a notification on the app that shows which aircraft has been dispatched, and a map will display with the estimated flight time and estimated time of arrival. A red line will appear on the map with the projected flight path.
Scot Cromer, president & CEO of Softtech Inc., the software developer of Flight Vector, said: “We’ve been fortunate to be able to partner with Vanderbilt LifeFlight on this exciting project. He added that the company plans to release a similar version to other Flight Vector customers across the country. Each version can be configured to be specific to the area for each customer’s flight programme.
The app is available on the Apple App Store and on Google Play.