Mobile comms tested in simulated stadium crush in Cork

5 Oct 2016

Data analytics and apps are core to the future of responding to catastrophic events

A European mobile platform for medical reaction during major emergencies and catastrophic events was put to the test in Cork during a simulated stadium crush.

Mobile tech and smartphone apps were put to the test, as part of a review of the PULSE emergency response system for responding to disastrous events.

Future Human

PULSE is a pan-European consortium that includes Dublin software company Skytek, as well as partners like UCSC (the biggest trauma hospital in Rome) and security organisations in Romania and Germany.

‘As the rate of potential crises increase, the ability to coordinate a wide range of groups and provide accurate live information is essential to managing these crises’

The idea behind PULSE is to provide tools for health services across Europe, to prepare and respond to major emergencies such as pandemics and mass casualty events.

In an exercise called Distant Rock, which simulated a stadium crush in Cork, a number of mobile technologies and smart apps were tested. This included the use of smartphones for the first time to log, record and photo casualties prior to their transfer to hospital.

The exercise was led by the Major Emergency Management (MEM) Region South and involved all emergency services and volunteers from the St John Ambulance, the Irish Red Cross, Civil Defence and the Order of Malta.

“In our increasingly globalised world, a single infected person can board a plane and spread a virus across continents,” said Skytek co-founder and CEO Dr Sarah Bourke.

“The recent Zika Virus epidemic together with terrorist events in France highlights the ever-present need to ensure that health services, and in particular the European Health Services (EHS), can respond effectively when faced with major medical emergencies.

“As the rate of potential crises increase, the ability to coordinate a wide range of groups, and provide accurate live information is essential to managing these crises.”

On the PULSE: data analytics and modelling core to responding to future crises

Mobile tech tested in response to simulated stadium crush in Cork

First response teams analyse data following the response of local emergency services to the simulated stadium crush in Cork

In response to questions from on how smartphone apps performed during the simulated crisis, Dr Bourke said: “The apps were deployed on mobile smartphone and tablets, and part of the validation during the major live exercise in Cork was to validate if their usage was a help/hindrance and to get such feedback from first responders.

“Early analysis of results was extremely positive, the apps were developed for short but essential capturing of information, not a detailed medical analysis of a casualty. So, basic details for tracking, identification and a high-level classification of criticality are captured. This minimised intrusion into medical treatment and provides essential information back to the incident command centre for patient tracking, hospital dispatch and identification.”

She said that a range of technologies were tested, ranging from in-the-field usage of the latest web app system, as well as usage of smartphone sensors, videos, QR readers for field data capture. Information is gathered in the central command centre, whereby a system for visualisation information uses mapping technology. This is in order to gain a real time operation view of the scene, and an overview of the injured.

“Data analytics and modelling are used to support planning the best use of resources such as hospitals, ambulances, medicine and first responders.”

Dr Bourke said that training in technology was provided to the first responders in advance of the trial.

“It was enthusiastically embraced during the trial. After the exercise, some first responders travelled from the trial site back to the command centre, as they were very interested to see the information they captured; how it was used and visualised in the command centre during the live exercise.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years