On Jan. 8, 2002, Ford Motor Company introduced a pilot partnership with Houston police to help medical personnel arrive at accidents faster and better prepared. About 300 Houston area police vehicles have been equipped with the advanced Rescue technology, which automatically notifies emergency rescue dispatchers when and precisely where an accident occurs, the force of impact, number of occupants and seat belt use.
The technology in the two-year pilot uses a number of sophisticated sensors and digital data telemetry to continuously monitor g-forces on the vehicles’ front, rear and sides, and the sudden extreme changes that indicate a collision has occurred, the force of the impact and the likely severity of injuries.
The system, which operates on an independent power source, sends pertinent crash data to emergency rescue dispatchers and trauma centers. A Global Positioning Satellites system also indicates the vehicle’s precise location, orientation and direction of pre-crash travel.
The data is sent by a cell phone that calls emergency responders automatically and also provides a voice link to the vehicle’s occupants.
Police vehicles—primarily Ford Explorers and Crown Victoria sedans—were chosen because law enforcement vehicles are involved in more crashes than other vehicles.
The technology is designed to improve accident survival rates, which are linked directly to the speed and accuracy of emergency medical response.
In the U.S. today, it takes an average of 5.2 minutes after impact before authorities are notified of a crash. Half of the 40,000 traffic fatalities occur before the victims reach a hospital.
The Rescue technology is part of Ford’s comprehensive Personal Safety System, which includes sensors to help a car or truck “think” through a crash and deploy appropriate safety belt technology and air bags. However, today’s system requires that an air bag be deployed before emergency responders are notified.
The advanced technology in the Houston pilot study would be especially effective in two scenarios: in rural areas, where a crash is not always seen and quickly reported by bystanders, delaying response time to more than an hour, and in urban areas during non-peak traffic hours.