New 511 data link could improve medical treatment in crashes

Drivers and passengers may never see one of the newest features added to Idaho’s 511 Traveler Services system. But if they’re involved in a severe crash, the program could mean the difference between life and death.

Idaho’s 511 system is based on a coalition-driven, multi-state Condition Acquisition Reporting System (CARS), coordinated by Castle Rock Consultants.

The newest feature, CARS-Mayday, was added this fall and provides direct information exchange between General Motors vehicles equipped with On-Star services and dispatchers at Idaho’s State Communications Center.

In the event of a serious crash involving an On-Star equipped vehicle, basic information can be reported through the State Communications Center to emergency responders and experts at medical centers. The nature of the collision and severity of the crash help medical center physicians, staff and emergency medical services prepare for treatment of victims.

Idaho’s 511 Traveler System is the first in the nation to provide ambulance dispatchers directly with On-Star information.

The life-saving potential of the information exchange caught the attention of the highway safety and EMS community, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, explained Tony Ernest, ITD’s travel services coordinator.

ITD worked with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (which operates the State Communications Center), trauma centers, Castle Rock and On-Star to coordinate and implement the new information exchange.

“The next logical step will be to capture and store accident information coming from this (On-Star) data stream and link it with the patient care outcomes of crash victims for further study,” Ernest explains.

CARS-Mayday eventually will export all incoming On-Star data automatically to the trauma registry, providing a storehouse of data that can be used to help improve the treatment of persons immediately following vehicle crashes, during transport and after arrival at a nearby hospital.

Published 11-19-2010