| 13.07,09. 12:11 AM |
Lost ambo's get GPS helper
July 12, 2009 12:00am
AMBULANCES will be fitted with navigation systems to stop them getting lost when responding to emergency calls.
About 3500 paramedics across the State have been issued personal satellite navigation (GPS) systems for the first time.
The Sunday Telegraph can reveal paramedics have in the past been forced to spend life-threatening seconds referring to a street directory.
State ambulance fleet manager John Flynn said prior to the state-of-the-art upgrade, officers relied on maps and street directories - and got lost like any other driver.
"If a crew is tasked out of area you don't want to be sitting there looking through a street directory," Mr Flynn said. "They do get lost when they're tasked out of areas.
"I'm not suggesting people's lives have been lost in those cases but it makes life easier when they're working in unfamiliar areas, so they're not trying to look at the street directory and keep their eyes on the road." The $1.2 million move means paramedics won't have to resort to flipping through the street directory in time-sensitive emergencies, as in the past.
The fleet will also be fitted with reversing cameras, to improve safety for pedestrian traffic, especially small children, and to reduce the risk of collisions.
Mr Flynn said ambulance officers often attended accidents where small children had been hit by reversing vehicles.
"So, being good corporate citizens we wanted to lead by example," he said. "About 40 per cent of our accidents in the ambulance fleet are when they are in reverse."
He said this year during Mardi Gras, an ambulance fitted with the camera could avoid unaware pedestrians in small laneways. Health Minister John Della Bosca said the move would assist with response times and enhance the safety and performance of crews.