HOUSTON, TX, August 2, 2002– Minutes often make the difference between life and death in a crash situation, especially if the victims are unable to call for help themselves while precious time ticks away. What if an ambulance could arrive at a scene completely prepared to administer medical help to the passengers, without any action by those involved?
Ford Motor Company is assisting emergency medical personnel explore ways to make a speedier and more informed response with Ford's enhanced Automatic Crash Notification (ACN) technology. This technology was installed into 500 Crown Victoria police sedans in the Houston area in June for a two-year pilot in partnership with the Greater Harris County's 9-1-1 Emergency Network. GHC 9-1-1 is a leader in implementing the latest public safety technology for wireline and wireless callers to 9-1-1 in its area. Law enforcement vehicles are involved in a higher percentage of crashes than other vehicles.
When a crash occurs, the system is activated by the extreme changes in g-forces on the vehicle in three directions. Sensors measure deceleration and direction – such as frontal, rear or side – which are important factors in determining injuries. The system also determines whether air bags were deployed, which seats throughout the vehicle are occupied, and if the occupants are wearing their safety belts. Belt usage is another key factor in determining the risk of injury. Vehicle orientation and location are determined with the help of sensors and global positioning satellites.
When a call comes in from one of the equipped vehicles, this information is routed to a call center, which establishes a voice link with the occupants in the car and connects the vehicle to the appropriate 9-1-1 center, known as the public safety answering point (PSAP). The operator at the PSAP dispatches help to callers in need of emergency assistance.
The calls made in this pilot will be automatically routed from the call center to Greater Harris County's 9-1-1 Emergency Network, with more critical data than any other system available today. The car’s occupants—in this case, the police officers—do not need to take any action for the link to be created; the data transmission is what allows a quick and well-prepared response to the scene.
When a landline call comes into the PSAP, location information is automatically provided to the operator, who can dispatch EMS personnel immediately to the scene. While cell phone calls to 9-1-1 are given the same priority as calls from landlines, they do not come with location information and can take longer for the operator to handle, especially if the caller doesn't know where he is. Location information also becomes critical when the crashed vehicle comes to rest in an area that is hidden from view, such as down a ravine.
With Ford's enhanced ACN technology, even though the occupant may not be able to alert rescuers to his or her position, the automatically transmitted location data could help speed rescue efforts that might otherwise stretch into hours or even days. Furthermore, knowing the number of occupants and the number of seatbelts in use could help to prepare hospital trauma workers to more quickly diagnose and treat the types of injuries they’re likely to see, based on the specific crash.
Unlike other cellular vehicle-based emergency services on the market today, this technology call connects directly to the appropriate 9-1-1 responder—not the local police or fire station general switchboard, which is the current ACN technology method. When the voice link is established to the PSAP, 9-1-1 operators are prepared to directly query the occupants on their condition. If the occupants are unable to respond, the operator still has critical data available to provide to the EMS responder, thereby establishing a quicker link to medical services.
Faster response time—fewer deaths
"Delays in medical treatment are directly associated with higher fatality rates and worse outcomes from serious injuries in crashes," said Dr. Stewart Wang, associate professor of Surgery and director of Research at the Trauma Center at the University of Michigan. "This post-crash technology can be especially effective in two cases – rural areas, where a crash is not always quickly seen by passersby and response times are often greater than 1 hour, and urban areas during off-peak driving times."
Today, crashes are reported to authorities an average of 5.2 minutes after the impact.
In the United States, approximately 40,000 lives are lost in traffic accidents each year and another 5 million people are injured. Most of the fatalities occur soon after the crash. For example, 30 percent of deaths occur within minutes of the crash. Fifty percent occur before the patient arrives at a hospital. Fully 70 percent of deaths occur within two hours of a crash.
Nationwide Network of Partners
This system combines Ford's Personal Safety System™—which uses sensors to help a car or truck "think" through a crash and deploy appropriate safety belt technology and air bags—with the enhanced ACN technology jointly developed between Ford and supplier Veridian. The information collected by these sensors is automatically transmitted from the vehicle to Cross Country Automotive Services (CCAS), the call center program responsible for managing the critical voice and data communications to and from the vehicle. CCAS in turn taps into the vast database of another partner, Intrado, which provides the location and link to the appropriate regional PSAPs. A voice link is then established between the CCAS operator, the GHC 9-1-1 operator and the vehicle.
Tri-axial accelerometer: A sensor measures acceleration and deceleration forces in all three planes to determine the force of a crash.
Seat occupant sensors: Sensors are used to determine which seats are occupied. Basically, they are contained in a woven mat placed under each seat and an electric field is created. The vehicle senses an occupant is in the seat when the electric field is altered.
Buckle switch sensors: Determines the seat belt usage status of all the occupants.
GPS receiver: Determines direction of travel and the vehicle’s precise location.
On-board microprocessor: Compiles data to compute an accurate portrayal of the crash.
Onboard communications: Digital data is transmitted between the different modules using a high-speed communication bus, with advanced "handshaking" to prevent errors.
Cellular phone: Automatically calls emergency rescue authorities and transmits vital crash data via cellular modem.
Power supply: An independent source assures that all components of the Rescue technology can function if the vehicle’s main battery is damaged.
Greater Harris County 9-1-1
Greater Harris County 9-1-1 Emergency Network (the Network), in Houston, Texas operates one of the most technologically advanced emergency communications systems in the nation. The Network, which serves the Houston area, is a leader in implementing the latest public safety technology for wireline and wireless callers to 9-1-1 in its area. It is the largest 9-1-1 administering agency in Texas and the third largest in the U.S., serving two counties, nearly 50 cities, including Houston, and 156 law, fire and EMS agencies.
Cross Country Automotive Services
Headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, Cross Country Automotive Services (www.CrossCountry-Auto.com
) is the leading provider of mobility-related customer service programs in North America, including emergency roadside assistance, telematics support, direct marketing and customer relationship management. Over 1,500 Cross Country employees serve more than 100 corporate clients and their more than 40 million customers each year. Cross Country Automotive Services is a member of The Cross Country Group, the largest privately held provider of customer service programs in the United States.
) is a leading provider of information-based systems, integrated solutions and services specializing in mission-critical national security programs for the intelligence community, the Department of Defense, law enforcement and other U.S. government agencies. Veridian operates at more than 50 locations, and employs more than 5,000 computer scientists and software development engineers, systems analysts, scientists, engineers and other professionals.
Founded in 1979, Intrado Inc. (NasdaqNM: TRDO) is pioneering the technology of Informed ResponseTM by providing telecommunications companies and public safety organizations with accurate, efficiently-delivered, mission-critical information—enabling them to respond effectively, anywhere and anytime, regardless of location, device or protocol.