The Sussex air ambulance is one of the first in the country to begin trialling a new app which allows them to view injured patients before they get to them.
The ‘GoodSAM’ app works by sending a simple text message to the 999-caller’s mobile phone, which accesses the camera and starts a live video stream back to the emergency service.
It means medics can assess how ill a patient is moments after an emergency call is made, allowing them to send the most appropriate response.
The technology even allows the app to measure a patient’s pulse – just from the video stream – and can even measure multiple patients’ pulses simultaneously.
Kent Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance has just begun testing the new system along with Great North Air Ambulance Service, and it is already said to be proving ‘game-changing’.
Professor Richard Lyon, associate medical director of Kent Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance, said: “Time is critical in saving a person’s life or reducing long-term disability, and often we have limited information from bystanders about a patient’s or multiple patients’ injuries to make decisions.
“Callers usually aren’t medically trained so information isn’t always accurate.
“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.”
GoodSAM says its ‘Instant On Scene’ streaming function will revolutionise how emergency services dispatch resources and assess patients, with ambulance services also about to start deploying it.
It is said to be especially useful for medical situations such as burns, to allow responders to see the extent of injury so early assessment can be made from control rooms.
GoodSAM says the ability to record patient’s pulses will enhance decision-making over how much of an emergency each given situation is.
GoodSAM’s medical director, professor Mark Wilson, said: “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.
“This can be through visualising the mechanisms of injury, for example the number of vehicles involved, or how sick a patient appears.
“This information can radically improve resource management – prioritising patients who otherwise might not have been thought of as that urgent.”
The app works on any smartphone device and network and the video stream appears with a map locating the caller, which can be shared with other emergency services like police or fire.
The trial is understood to have been running for two months.