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London’s Air Ambulance uses 4G for rapid response

Jennifer Scott

EE is working with London’s Air Ambulance to help doctors and paramedics take advantage of 4G across the capital.

Despite the name, the charity uses rapid response cars during the night to reach patients in need. However, the hard copy London A-Z maps they relied on added extra time to a journey that has to be as short as possible.

London’s Air Ambulance had attempted to use tablets and navigation applications on 3G networks to speed up the route planning process. When travelling at high speed through the city, however, the connectivity was not quick enough to refresh maps when necessary.

With 4G from EE, the medical professionals can now type in an address and map a route to the patient much faster, shaving off all-important minutes from response times.

“London’s Air Ambulance attracts senior doctors from all over the world, so their street-by-street knowledge of the capital may be sketchy,” said Gareth Davies, medical director and chair of the trustees of London’s Air Ambulance.

“It’s a big change from the current reliance on map books. And unlike using a map book, if you go wrong, the app corrects you immediately,” he said.

The charity is now planning to develop further applications, alongside EE, to help it in the air.

First up is a project to remove the need for paperwork to be carried with doctors and paramedics when attending an incident. Instead, they are trialling a system where information on the patient can be transferred wirelessly to an iPad in the helicopter, saving the professionals from having to collect hard copies of the data they need, instead simply receiving it while on the move.

“Our patients have started the dying process as soon as their injury has occurred,” said Davies. “Many of them don’t have a pulse, so the time you have to save a life is very short. Saving seconds wherever we all adds up and makes a difference to their outcome. Take-offs will potentially be minutes sooner.” 

Other applications are being worked on for London’s Air Ambulance back offices, including a cloud application to host the charity’s standard operating procedures, used by similar organisations across the world.

There are also plans to manage data, checklists and paperwork within offices using 4G networks, although these are still at an early stage.

EE has signed up 318,000 customers to 4G services in the first five months since its network went live, as well as 1,600 medium and large enterprises.


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