EMTRAC News

A Creative Approach to Reducing Response Times

June 12, 2013 - At it's core, the EMTRAC system is about enabling agency vehicles to request signal priority through equipped intersections. However, EMTRAC customers throughout North America have found other ways to use EMTRAC to cut travel and response times.

For first-response applications, every second is vital, and cutting a minute or more off response time can dramatically increase the chance of survival for patients receiving critical care. While signal priority is a key feature in reducing response times, some of our customers have expanded their systems to take advantage of the full range of EMTRAC capability.

An Ambulance in Front of Emergency Room Ambulance Bay

Ambulance in Front of Ambulance Bay

One example of this expanded functionality is with the use of indoor ambulance bays, which are designed to offer a secure and private environment and to protect patients and responders from the elements. Most ambulance bays include overhead doors that automatically open and close when an ambulance arrives or departs the hospital.

However, these doors also present the challenge of providing a secure environment while also allowing the ambulance to quickly enter the enclosed bay. In some cases, in-ground loops are used to open the first door. To prevent the general public from opening the door, the ambulance typically has to park in a specific narrow area for a minimum amount of time before the door will open.

One EMTRAC customer reported that this process took no less than 60 seconds to complete. Needless to say, the one-minute delay was unacceptable. Because their ambulances were already equipped with EMTRAC—to provide signal priority along the corridor to a recently completed hospital—using the system to control the ambulance-bay doors was a natural solution.

Their solution to open the doors was very much like the way they use the EMTRAC system to request green signals at intersections. When an EMTRAC-equipped ambulance enters a GPS-defined zone, it automatically transmits an RF call to a detector unit at the ambulance bay. The detector then prompts the door to open through a connection to the door control.

Illustration of Hospital Ambulance Approach with Zones

Illustration of Ambulance-Approach Zones

The zones to initiate the door-opening sequence start at the entrance to the hospital emergency center. Multiple overlapping zones are used to ensure coverage throughout the approach, providing time for the door to fully open before the ambulance arrives at the entrance.

Because the same customer also uses the EMTRAC Central Monitor system, they also have remote access to the detector unit inside the bay, enabling them to view real-time vehicle and door activity, and to view detailed logs (which show the date and time specific ambulances opened the door, in addition to the other information).

The agency described in this example gained the following advantages by using EMTRAC:

  • Timeliness: Response times were reduced by 60 seconds for all ambulance runs.
  • Security: Ambulances are now the only vehicles that can open the entry door. Previously, any vehicle could conceivably park over the loop and open the door. This security is also extended to critical-care areas inside the hospital.
  • Reliability: Due to the scheduled opening date of the new hospital (and an eleventh-hour replacement of the original in-ground-loop design) the EMTRAC door components had to be installed one day before the new hospital opened—without a test period to ensure proper operation. After installation, and a quick initial test, the first ambulance arrived to open the door at 6:00 AM the following morning. All 37 equipped ambulances have since made hospital runs—with every one of them opening the doors prior to arrival.
  • Ease of Implementation and Use: Components for the bay doors were installed in less than one day. Future installation will take even less time.
  • Safety: Minimal driver interaction is required. In fact, agencies can decide whether they want to require any driver interaction.

For more information about how the EMTRAC system can improve response times for your agency, please contact us.

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