ITD sponsors research, field test 'CrashHelp' smart phone application

While it’s true that many accidents are caused by texting and talking on the phone, researchers discovered that those devices also can be vital in saving lives.

ITD is collaborating with California’s Claremont Graduate University (CGU) to field-test a smart phone application called CrashHelp that was developed by CGU’s Tom Horan and Ben Schooley.

The CrashHelp system is designed to improve emergency medical services (EMS) response by enhancing communication between paramedics and hospital emergency room/trauma center providers.

The research project to test CrashHelp was requested by ITD’s Office of Highway Safety and is being funded through ITD’s Research Program. The project closely aligns with ITD’s “Toward Zero Deaths” vision, which seeks to eliminate traffic fatalities through engineering, education, enforcement and emergency response.

Idaho’s Highway Safety Manager Brent Jennings sponsored the project because he believes CrashHelp has the potential to improve emergency services to crash victims during the ‘Golden Hour.’

The Golden Hour refers to the 60 minutes immediately after a traumatic injury.

“The victim’s chances of survival are greatest if he or she receives definitive care within the first hour,” according to the Trauma Center Association of America.

However, too often crash victims do not receive needed care within that time period because emergency services may initially lack the resources to fully evaluate their condition. CrashHelp addresses the issue with some of its basic features.
The CrashHelp app allows paramedics to securely send general patient status, information about the patients’ condition and the treatment provided directly to emergency room physicians.

The app also can be used to send photos, audio and video of the crash victims and the accident scene to help emergency room staff to better prepare for the patient’s arrival. With that enhanced information sharing, paramedics and hospital emergency room staff can use CrashHelp as a valuable resource for faster diagnosis and treatment of crash victims during the critical ‘Golden Hour.’

Over the past 10 months, researchers and ITD’s technical advisory committee (which includes ITD staff and representatives from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s EMS Bureau, the Idaho Trauma Registry, and the Idaho State Police) worked with two ambulance providers and nine hospitals in the Treasure Valley to test the system.

During that time, the CrashHelp tool was used in response to more than 1,500 crashes. The types of incidents reported through CrashHelp ranged from minor traumas to cardiac arrest.

Researchers are meeting with paramedics and hospital staff who participated in the field test to evaluate the system’s performance and identify potential improvements. The research project is expected to be completed in October. More details of the research will be available at that time.

Published 9-13-13