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Bispebjerg Hospital - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital
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Live video from bystanders' smartphones to medical dispatchers in real emergencies

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BACKGROUND: Medical dispatchers have limited information to assess the appropriate emergency response when citizens call the emergency number. We explored whether live video from bystanders' smartphones changed emergency response and was beneficial for the dispatcher and caller.

METHODS: From June 2019 to February 2020, all medical dispatchers could add live video to the emergency calls at Copenhagen Emergency Medical Services, Denmark. Live video was established with a text message link sent to the caller's smartphone using GoodSAM®. To avoid delayed emergency response if the video transmission failed, the medical dispatcher had to determine the emergency response before adding live video to the call. We conducted a cohort study with a historical reference group. Emergency response and cause of the call were registered within the dispatch system. After each video, the dispatcher and caller were given a questionnaire about their experience.

RESULTS: Adding live video succeeded in 838 emergencies (82.2% of attempted video transmissions) and follow-up was possible in 700 emergency calls. The dispatchers' assessment of the patients' condition changed in 51.1% of the calls (condition more critical in 12.9% and less critical in 38.2%), resulting in changed emergency response in 27.5% of the cases after receiving the video (OR 1.58, 95% CI: 1.30-1.91) compared to calls without video. Video was added more frequently in cases with sick children or unconscious patients compared with normal emergency calls. The dispatcher recognized other or different disease/trauma in 9.9% and found that patient care, such as the quality of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, obstructed airway or position of the patient, improved in 28.4% of the emergencies. Only 111 callers returned the questionnaire, 97.3% of whom felt that live video should be implemented.

CONCLUSIONS: It is technically feasible to add live video to emergency calls. The medical dispatcher's perception of the patient changed in about half of cases. The odds for changing emergency response were 58% higher when video was added to the call. However, use of live video is challenging with the existing dispatch protocols, and further implementation science is necessary.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101
JournalBMC Emergency Medicine
Volume21
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)101
ISSN1471-227X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sep 2021

Bibliographical note

© 2021. The Author(s).

ID: 68495886