Cutting Edge Technology Helping Paramedics Save Lives

01 February 2020

Victorian triple zero (000) call takers will soon be making life-saving decisions using revolutionary artificial intelligence technology to fast-track urgent care to people suffering cardiac arrests.

Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos today announced that Ambulance Victoria would receive $1.71 million from the Andrews Labor Government’s Safer Care Victoria Innovation Fund for two groundbreaking new projects.

The Artificial Intelligence in Cardiac Arrest project will receive $1.36 million to help ESTA triple zero operators identify signs of cardiac arrest over the phone - saving an additional 185 lives each year.

The artificial intelligence technology runs in the background of incoming emergency calls and picks up key words, language and sound patterns of the caller that are likely to indicate the patient is having a cardiac arrest.

If the system recognises signs of a cardiac arrest, it alerts the ESTA triple zero call-taker to dispatch a high-priority ambulance and talk bystanders through CPR or defibrillation. Ambulance Victoria will be working with Monash University to develop the technology.

Ambulance Victoria also received an additional $350,000 to provide mental health-related emergency callers with an option to use SMS to initiate a video call.

The limitations of voice-only triage are many people who call triple zero with a mental health concern often end up being transported to an emergency department by ambulance, causing distress and delaying face-to-face specialist care.

Ambulance Victoria’s ‘Tele-HELP’ project will facilitate emergency video calls with an experienced mental health nurse, allowing the nurse to more accurately assess the person and potentially provide face-to-face care sooner.

Safer Care Victoria is the state’s lead agency for improving quality and safety in Victorian healthcare. The innovation fund has allocated $16.2 million to fund 42 projects since it was established in 2016.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos

“We are always looking for new, cutting edge ways to innovate and deliver the very best and safest care – because all Victorians deserve access to world class treatment when they need it most, no matter where they live.”

“In a cardiac arrest, every second counts. Cutting edge artificial intelligence will help paramedics get to the scene of a cardiac arrest faster – reducing the chance of brain damage and giving them a greater chance of surviving.”

Quote attributable to Ambulance Victoria Director Centre for Research and Evaluation Professor Karen Smith

“It is exciting to be working in collaboration with Safer Care Victoria and with support from these innovation grants we’ve developed new tools to support decision making and appropriate ambulance response.”

Reviewed 29 June 2020

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