IP Emergency Button Speeds Critical Patient Transports

Aronson Security Group (ASG) has designed an innovative button for use by nurses and doctors when a medical transport is needed, and needed fast. A medical transportation client and hospitals in the Pacific Northwest had asked for a new solution for emergency transport notification, dedicated to improving patient outcomes by providing transport such as helicopter, fixed-wing, and ground ambulance support to seriously ill or injured patients in a safe and timely manner.

LifeFlight button WITHOUT logo2The button system previously in use was unreliable for a number of reasons. When a nurse pressed one, there was no positive acknowledgement indicating that the order had been received. Often, the nurse would have to also call the medical transport, which wasted valuable seconds in addition to the cost of monthly telephone charges and the need for a modem purchase. ASG’s medical transport client wanted to dramatically improve patient service and create something that would work for hospitals and transport providers alike.

ASG has years of experience installing Milestone XProtect video management software (VMS) for a variety of clients. They knew that the rules engine in the Milestone software would give the input/output (I/O) functionality that was necessary to create this solution: the open platform architecture of the VMS is designed just for such innovative integration of multiple sensor data.

We came up with the idea to use the Milestone software rules for an input from the button and an output for a confirmation LED light. So when the button was pushed, positive acknowledgement could be confirmed by a light turning on. It’s a simple but very effective solution. – Steve Lowrance, director of product management at ASG

The Milestone VMS uses the same sensor monitoring methodology for the button as it normally does for a video camera, by indicating the performance of the camera back to the base system installed in the transport company’s communications center.

“We also wanted to be able to send a visual confirmation of the request back to their command center,” added Lowrance.

Nurses and doctors in the hospital now have clear directives. When the hospital needs medical transportation, a staff member hits the button. The button flashes red indicating it is sending, and turns green when it is received. The Milestone rules engine processes the request by automatically sending a message to the communications center, where the notification flashes on the big screen and also gets reproduced to the communication center phones and email. A separate communication goes to the regional director of the flight crew.

In these emergency situations every second matters. The transport company is communicating with everyone as they concurrently verify pickup. Hospitals have seen numerous benefits from having implemented this life-saving button:

  • The simplicity of a button initiates a life-saving medical transport. No manuals, phones, or costly monitoring service.
  • Multicolored LEDs provide clear and precise confirmation that the request was properly sent and received.
  • The request process from hospitals to the transport company is reduced significantly, saving crucial time in the movement of patients in crisis.
  • Elimination of phone lines at hospitals and dispatch centers provides a significant monthly recurring cost reduction for better return on investment (ROI) in the solution.
  • The transport company is ultimately more valuable in their market by providing a service that is highly differentiated and helps save lives. ASG now offers the innovative solution to other medical transport companies, adding value for the healthcare and first responder industries.

Axis helps ASG to Institute Secondary Protocols

Lowrance and his team also discussed with hospitals what the best action was to indicate if the LED light did not go on at the nurses’ station, and decided an email to a distribution group to be the optimal solution. Through the Milestone software, Lowrance was able to set up an automatic email alert that goes out as soon as it is conveyed that the light has not gone on after hitting the button to summon the transport.

Hospitals also wanted to add a redundancy protocol in case their servers were down and email was unsuccessful. In this case, ASG turned to Axis Communications for a solution.

“Axis network video cameras have scripting capabilities included in the I/O module. It allowed us to go into the camera unit itself and dictate that when the signal for the button was received, X and Y tasks should be done. Now we have Milestone and Axis sending emails to ensure the system has multiple backups,” explained Lowrance.

Looking to the Future for More Integrations

The proof of concept (POC), originally designed for two hospitals, is now in 15-20 different locations. Requests are streaming in from hospitals around the country, and Lowrance sees more potential to this solution beyond the current iteration:

Down the road as we develop it, this solution can be something we can sell to customers as an all-in-one. They can request an IP network and we can plug it into that network. Hopefully soon we’ll be able to build it into a self-enclosed 8×12 back panel at hospitals. It will be completely self-contained, needing only a power outlet and a network jack.

Lowrance said ASG is also looking at extending the solution to airports where helicopter flight crews are stationed. Often an emergency transport notification button is pushed in the middle of the night when the crew is asleep.

“We’d like to notify the crew of a call coming via an alarm or strobe. We’re also in discussions with 911 to give them the capability of calling for a medical transport,” he said.

Helicopters will keep blood and plasma on board for emergencies, each of which must be kept at certain temperatures. ASG would like to install a temperature probe in the refrigerators. If the temperature exceeds a certain threshold, an alarm would go off and Milestone can act as the monitoring system of this sensor, just like it does for the button.

“This way, if a situation arises, on-board staff can take action and rectify the situation before it’s too late,” said Lowrance. “We’re only beginning to scratch the surface of what we can do with this flexible integration solution.”

For more information about this solution, visit aronsonsecurity.com.