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February 23, 2016

Traffic app alerts EMS to accidents in real time

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — A community-based traffic and navigation app may reduce response times to emergency situations.

Waze, a free crowd-sourcing app bought by Google, is now being used by emergency dispatchers. Genesis PULSE, a tool for EMS to reduce response time, was integrated into the product as users, called "Wazers," report traffic collisions via the app.

The app works like this: a motorist enters their destination into the app and begins driving with it open. The app relays traffic congestion information back to other users.

With the Genesis partnership, the app is being used to decrease response times of emergency vehicles and provide dispatch centers a feed where they can see traffic events in real time.

The app recently came into play when Wazers reported a crash on a Texas interstate that later appeared on a dispatch center's feed. A dispatcher pre-alerted the nearest Champion (Texas) EMS ambulance to the crash. A formal 911 call was received 11 minutes after it was reported on the app.

The ambulance arrived on the scene in less than four minutes. A typical response from that station to the location of the incident would have been 15 minutes.

Here's a screenshot showing how close the ambulance was when it was dispatched to the scene.

We want to know: does your department or dispatch center use Waze information?