What would future first responder collaboration look like?
Improving health assessment and communication in mass casualty incidents.
Umeå Institute of Design
User Centered Design
Visual Story Telling
Omnia is an innovative health assessment system for first-responders that enhances collaboration and communication in mass casualty incidents. It's modern camera technology speeds up the patient prioritization process, saving both time and lives.
The topic was approached through a very user-centered design process, starting out with a trip to a first-responder training facility, where police-, ambulance- and firefighter students met in a joint two-day practice with real-life scenarios.
Observing this, as well as taking part in an annual mass casualty practice for professional first-responders, was extremely helpful to get a feeling for the responsibilities and challenges the different groups face while working together.
The collaboration with the local first-responders continued throughout the whole project. It helped clear questions during research and validate ideas through user-testings and interviews.
The Biggest Challenge
By observing first-responder training and conducting interviews, it became clear that the most challenging situation in terms of first-responder collaboration are mass casualty incidents.
Finding the Most Critical
Paramedics, firefighters and police have to act fast in finding the most critical patients, prioritizing, “triaging” them and bringing them to the hospital as soon as possible.
It needs a new system, simple enough to allow all first-responders to prioritize early, speed up the vital sign measurements done by paramedics, while at the same time being advanced enough to provide early information to other first-responders as well as the hospital.
A Two-Part System
Omnia is a two-part system: One is the companion, a device worn by the first-responder to measure vital signs, prioritize patients and document the process. The other is a new assessment tag that identifies the patient and creates a link to the collected data.
How it works:
The companion utilizes two cameras to conduct non-contact vital sign measurements on the patient. One is a visible light camera measuring the main vitals, such as pulse and blood pressure. It scans the patient's skin areas and detects the differences in blood flow, due to varying light absorption and reflection. This is already used in baby monitors and distanced measuring of infectious diseases. Additionally, an infrared camera measures the patient’s body temperature.
The tag is attached to the patient’s body, then the camera recognizes the tag code and priority color (red, green, yellow) and adds a timestamp and paramedic ID to the digital record. This data is then immediately available to the hospital.
On an aesthetic level, the camera modules are neatly integrated into a soft, protective body, giving it a friendly and professional appearance.
Keeping the Tag Analog Aspect
Besides technical features, sustainability and human factors were considered. Instead of putting sensors directly onto the patient, Omnia, shifts the sensing technology completely onto the wearable, allowing for a simple, sustainable ID tag. It keeps the intuitive, analog aspect of the paper tag while utilizing modern technology, thereby, making it accessible and easy to use by any first responder.
Enhancing Communication & Collaboration
By gaining information at an early point, the system allows first-responder groups that are on their way to the incident, as well as the hospital, to prepare for patient treatment ahead of time. Uppon arrival paramedics can then immediately tend to the ones most in need.