How Mobile Technology Enables Emergency Services to Be Faster, More Agile and More Effective

How Mobile Technology Enables Emergency Services to Be Faster, More Agile and More Effective

For frontline heroes, which include paramedics, police officers and firefighters, speed can save lives. Being slow or unprepared when responding to the call of duty isn’t an option. As a result, call response times are constantly measured and analyzed to determine service level efficiency and quality with rigorous standards.

  • In the UK, ambulances must respond to Category 1 calls (defined as people with life-threatening illnesses) in 7 minutes.1
  • The national response time for paramedics in Canada is 8 minutes and 59 seconds for the most serious emergencies.2
  • Firefighters in the U.S. must arrive on the scene within 4 minutes of receiving a call.
  • The average police response time in the U.S. is exactly 10 minutes.4

When lives are on the line, emergency services personnel must know where they’re going, what they’re dealing with, and if there are any obstacles in their way. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance of speed, and access to real-time information when responding to calls for help during a time of resource shortages.

The Emergency Services Sector Is Investing in Business-Critical Mobile Technology to Improve their Operations

Mobile technology, and the tools required to manage and deploy mobile devices, are becoming increasingly important. The global incident and emergency management market size is expected to grow from $107 billion USD in 2019 to $148.5 billion USD by 2024.5


Investments are being made across the following priorities within the emergency services sector worldwide:

 

  • IT infrastructure: An increased focus on strengthening the systems required to ensure reliable communication during emergency situations.
  • App development: Building and deploying apps to collect and use information such as: traffic updates, connection point locations (fire hydrants), patient condition, Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), and damage severity when responding to natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes.
  • Access to data: Delivering actionable insights into critical data, like public egress and ingress numbers and patient records, which provides the best possible care when arriving on the scene.
  • Devices: Rugged devices from original equipment manufacturers are being deployed to provide additional resources in tough, stressful environments where device downtime can mean the difference between life and death.
  • Mobile security: Emergency departments are investing in mobile security platforms, to ensure confidential information stays secure should devices become lost.

How the Emergency Services Sector Is Using Mobile Technology to Serve, Protect and Save Lives

For emergency services personnel, mobile technology is vital to their safety, while ensuring they can consistently and properly attend to citizens in need.

Various emergency departments are utilizing mobile technology in the following ways:

Firefighters

When fire departments streamline communications into a single, unified platform, the transmission of information from the dispatcher to first responder is improved when there is visibility into data such as: the location of the fire, building schematics or potential hazards.

 

On a smartphone, vital data can be used to coordinate rescue efforts. On a smartwatch, a firefighter can navigate their way through an unfamiliar building to locate and rescue trapped victims.

 

Using an integrated and trusted Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solution across all mobile devices can enable commanders overseeing their frontline teams onsite to have enhanced visibility into the location of every firefighter dispersed within a burning building. 

 

Another example could be using a smartwatch to detect a change in heart rate or a fall, and ensuring controls are in place to send an alert to the commander to send help. Mobile devices are also used to help firefighters maintain required levels of fitness, mental health and good eating habits while off-duty.6

 

Additionally, apps are being developed to eliminate paper-based processes such as:

  • Issuing citations to landlords and property owners negligent in providing and maintaining smoke alarms.
  • Completing vehicle, building and situational inspection reports.
  • Updating building maps with information on fire extinguisher locations and emergency exit points.

Paramedics

For paramedics operating in geographically diverse areas where hospitals are a long distance away, smart ambulances provide a safer working environment, better patient care, and improved communication between vehicles and their main operating facility.

For example:

  • In some areas, smart ambulances connect with a city’s traffic system to control traffic flow and minimize road congestion. This ensures a clear path to reach critical patients.7
  • Smart mechanic tools identify engine problems immediately and take remediation actions to prevent them from slowing down or stopping the ambulance completely. This includes automatic switching from electric to gas engines for hybrid ambulances to prolong driving time and reduce unnecessary battery output while the ambulance is idling.
  • On the scene, paramedics tending to patients can take photographs and various readings (blood pressure, EKG, glucose levels, etc.) and upload them to the Cloud, where paramedics who are stationed in the ambulance, along with doctors back at the hospital, can see them.

This flow of data allows everyone to see the exact same patient information in real-time and collaborate in order to properly treat the patient and safely transport them to the hospital.

Police

Police cars are equipped with mobile computers, to enhance officer safety and visibility into critical data. Every day, officers access various databases, digitally fill out paperwork, record witness statements and upload photos taken at crime scenes.


There’s one notable limitation though – once the officer leaves the car, the computer (called a mobile data terminal or MDT) is useless.


Police forces all over the world are equipping officers with tablets, smartphones and smartwatches to receive calls, collect evidence, file reports, discreetly request backup support, and access data without having to return to the squad car.

  • Police officers are also reliant on a myriad of apps while on duty:
  • Mapping apps help them to safely and quickly navigate unfamiliar neighbourhoods.
  • Translation apps enable them to interact with citizens who don’t speak their native language.
  • Fingerprinting apps to check the identity of unknown people or to add suspects to a database.

Lastly, police forces are using drone technology to map municipalities, perform surveillance, investigate crime scenes, assist with traffic management and ironically, seize illegal or unregistered drones.

Mobile Technology is a Critical Tool for Emergency Services Personnel

From distributing and receiving lifesaving information to improving situational awareness in dangerous scenarios to constant communication, mobile technology is changing the way emergency services personnel respond to the call of duty.

Combined with an integrated business-critical mobility strategy, mobile technology empowers emergency services to realize performance improvements, see an increase in personnel productivity, an improvement in community satisfaction, and most importantly, ensure the safety of their personnel in times of crisis.


During the COVID-19 pandemic, mobile technology is on the frontlines helping diagnose and treat infected patients.


SOTI applauds all emergency personnel and first responders, all of whom place their lives on the line in order to help those in need.


1. Nuffield Trust, Ambulance Response Times
2. Paramedicsin859, Why Response Times Matter