Emergency Dispatch That Incorporates GPS With Smart AED Cabinets Reduces Response Times in Rural Areas

October 11, 2019

By Eric Ramos

TALLINN, Estonia -- October 9, 2019 -- A global positioning system (GPS) that incorporates emergency dispatch, intelligent automatic external defibrillator (AED) cabinets, and marked mobile resuscitation units through a bluetooth device (iBeacon) can significantly reduce medical response times to cardiac arrests in rural areas, researchers reported here at the inaugural European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Digital Summit 2019.

Finn Lund Henriksen, MD, Odense University Hospital, Odense, Denmark, and colleagues created this system to use in southern Denmark -- which is considered a rural area -- due to the long ambulance and paramedic response times.

“First local responders in this rural area take 4 minutes and 46 seconds to arrive,” said Finn Lund Henriksen, Odense University Hospital, Odense, Denmark. “A first responder with an AED takes 6 minutes and 21 seconds, and the time for an ambulance to arrive is 10 minutes and 13 seconds.”

This huge gap between when first responders arrive and when the ambulance arrives prompted this “smart” intervention. The time difference between first responders with and without an AED was also concerning.

The new system uses GPS to locate and alert first responders that are nearest to where the cardiac arrest is happening. First responders who do not have their own defibrillator will be able to locate an AED cabinet using the GPS system and pick it up before heading to the cardiac arrest site. Most AED cabinets are located near roads, making them easy to access.

“When you witness a cardiac arrest, you make a call to the emergency medical dispatch centre,” explained Dr. Henriksen. “The [centre] will then dispatch an ambulance -- paramedic and/or medical doctor in Denmark -- but they will also activate this system which will GPS-track the 9 geographically closest volunteer first responders. The [first responders] will get an alarm and they have the [option] to accept or reject the alarm.”

“The system will then select the 3 most optimally-placed first responders,” he said. “Two of them run to the cardiac arrest to give the heart lung resuscitation and the third one will pick up the AED and bring it to the site using the GPS information. We made intelligent AED cabinets, so when you GPS-track first responders, you also GPS-track the AED cabinets in the area.”

The cabinets all have flashlights for easier navigation at night-time and sirens for foggy weather, which is the norm in southern Denmark. The cabinets unlock for up to 1 hour after the alarm goes off.

“It’s very dark in this rural, seaside area of Denmark,” said Dr. Henriksen. “But when you GPS-track the cabinet, you can go for the blue flashlight because all the cabinets are placed close to the road. This will reduce the response time for [getting] the AED onsite.”

First responders who already have their own AED can make themselves known with the iBeacon bluetooth device.

“I’m both a medical doctor and a first responder when I’m in this area [of Denmark],” explained Dr. Henriksen. “In my car, there’s an AED. I put this iBeacon bluetooth device on my AED and when I’m very close to my iBeacon in my car, it will automatically connect to my smartphone and to my AED. So now, I’m a mobile resuscitation unit and a first responder with an AED. Your phone will let you know when you are connected with a green light. When I leave my car, I am disconnected and light becomes red.”

[Presentation title: Global Positioning System - Incorporates Emergency Dispatch, Intelligent Automatic External Defibrillator Cabinets and iBeacon-Marked Mobile Resuscitation Units]