How EMS GPS Tracking Improves Ambulance Response Time
First responders know that EMS response times are critical, as does anyone who’s called for help in a crisis. Each 911 call is an emergency for someone and represents a family’s loved one in jeopardy. Lives are at stake.
Does EMS response time matter?
Coffee County, Tennessee EMS Chief Michael Bonner says, “Obviously, if someone is not breathing or bleeding from a very bad wound, every second does make a difference. For the great majority of the calls, one minute won’t make a difference, but we have to be ready for that one call where it will – that’s the whole point. Somebody has to get there and get that bleed stopped, somebody has to get there and get that air flowing again. Every second counts.” His department has worked not only to cut down ambulance response time, but to decrease “chute time,” the time between a 911 call and ambulance dispatch, as well.
For municipalities and private ambulance corps, the bottom line is at stake, too. When mistakes occur, lawsuits follow. In 2015, Dualtagh Donnelly died after he cut an artery in his arm at home in Ireland. His partner called for help, but it took nearly 40 minutes for an ambulance to arrive. The vehicle had no on-board GPS and the driver took a wrong exit off the highway. Donnelly’s family was awarded €125,000 and GPS is now standard on area emergency vehicles.
Precision and timing are of the utmost importance when it comes to responding to medical emergencies. Once a call comes into any dispatcher, events begin to happen at a whirlwind pace, and decisions have to be made in a matter of seconds. The utilization of ambulance GPS vehicle tracking systems eliminates the inefficiency of EMS dispatch and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) volleying back and forth while trying to get vital assistance to the scene of the emergency.
How fast does an ambulance respond?
French writer Marcel Proust once said, “The time at our disposal each day is elastic; the passions we feel dilate it, those that inspire us shrink it, and habit fills it.” In other, simpler words, time may fly when you’re having fun but, in an urgent situation, minutes can feel like hours.
The 2020 National EMS Assessment determined that over 18,000 local EMS agencies respond to nearly 30 million 911 calls each year. Common reasons for calling an ambulance include car crashes, sudden injuries, heart attacks, choking, difficulty breathing, psychiatric emergencies, and drug overdoses. The faster help arrives, the more likely it is that a positive outcome can be achieved.
According to a 2017 study published in the Journal of American Medicine, the average time between a 911 call and the arrival of an ambulance was seven minutes in most locations, with that figure doubling to as much as 14 minutes in some rural settings. Nearly one in ten 911 callers wait up to a half hour for EMS to arrive on the scene.
How can I improve my EMS response time?
As is true of all efforts toward personal, professional, or institutional development, the key toward improving response time lies in identifying quantifiable goals and then taking steps to reach them. One way EMS organizations can shave potentially life-saving seconds off response times is by adding on-board GPS to their fleets.
Locating the emergency response unit closest to the dispatch location consumes time that could mean the difference between getting there just at the right moment or a minute too late. Perhaps the EMT is traveling to an unfamiliar area and needs specific directions to help them quickly get to the location. GPS vehicle tracking systems offer a multipurpose tool that can be used to resolve all of these issues.
Real-time location detection aids in delivering desperately needed medical care. GPS tracking systems let dispatchers know exactly where their mobile units are at any given moment, making it possible for them to be sure that they are sending the closest ambulance to an emergency. Turn-by-turn navigation information prevents driver confusion, further decreasing ambulance response time.
A full suite of on-board diagnostics can also help fleet managers effectively maintain their vehicles, reducing the number of hours and days that a vehicle has to be taken out of service due to mechanical issues.
Do EMS drivers use GPS?
In many areas, 911 dispatchers support ambulances with the help of Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD). This GPS-enabled technology allows dispatchers to know which of their fleet vehicles are closest to the caller and to assist in navigation while a vehicle is enroute. CAD is an improvement in reliability over the phone-based GPS that would be available to drivers, and shortens response time.
Ambulances are worth over $100,000 each, making them attractive to thieves who often lack the skill necessary to handle these specialized vehicles. Collisions and fatalities can result. On-board GPS is an effective tool in recovering a stolen ambulance.
If you’d like to learn more about how GPS Trackit can help to improve safety, increase productivity and reduce costs for your business, speak with one of our knowledgeable Fleet Advisors at 866-320-5810 or get a quick Custom Quote.
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