The NSW Ambulance service announced Tuesday a rollout of 690 additional wireless communication units for ambulances state-wide, with a go-live date of this October.
The systems use a prioritized mixture of private communication networks from Telstra, CDMA, GSM and satellite in remote areas. The communications platform was initially trialled in six ambulances in Tamworth 18 months ago.
Now, 400 ambulances around metropolitan Sydney are using the service; however, this phase will roll the system out to the rest of the NSW ambulance fleet.
Panasonic, Global Star, Data 911 and Technisyst are all partnering on the project, which is estimated to cost $14 million.
Technisyst chief executive Bill Delaney said the system works by continually tracking and monitoring ambulances so urgent calls can be routed instantly to the ambulance closest to the call's origin.
Delaney said once the dispatch operator makes the decision on which vehicle will attend which job, call and patient data gets fed across the state network, with all necessary details appearing on a display in the ambulance.
"The computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system is already in place and Technisyst has a contractual responsibility for the message delivery, which in NSW is that 95 percent of messages must be delivered from the gateway to the ambulance in eight seconds and 98 percent in 10 seconds," Delaney said.
"The system logs and records the time between job allocation and when the vehicle arrives at the [destination], because ambulance drivers push a status button when they get out of the vehicle.
"In the past the ambulances were activated from the station, or dispatchers had to try and keep track of ambulances through voice traffic, which can sometimes be garbled; in this case all job details appear in text on the screen inside the ambulance."
NSW Minister for Health, John Hatzistergos said the system will be fully managed by Telstra under a Delivery Traffic Indication Message contract spanning five years. It will help to lead to faster response times in ambulances in regional NSW, he said.
"Another benefit of the use of GPS technology is that ambulance officers will be able to pinpoint exact co-ordinates to reach rescue helicopters in rural and remote areas during emergency operations," Hatzistergos said.