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Instant communications to the rescue...

InTechnology has given Heathrow Air Ambulance Service wider connectivity, improved control centre co-ordination and reduced costs


eathrow Air Ambulance Service (HAAS) operates a 24-hour serv- ice from its control centre based at

Heathrow airport. Working daily with partners across the UK and Europe, it provides medical transport, liaises with NHS professionals and re- patriates seriously ill or injured people. When HAAS wanted to add to its original

two-way UHF radios in order to achieve coverage outside the airport perimeter, it decided to move to a push-to-talk (PTT) system. Although the technology did work on the new handsets, there were several problems with the actual equipment and the service delivered by the supplier. T e handsets were delayed and, when they did

arrive, they didn’t function because of poor con- nectivity: over a two-week period, an average of only one in 20 tracks was successful. And the problems didn’t end there. Co-

lin Walker-White, operations manager at the HAAS control centre, explains: “Unfortunately, as soon as we took the handsets inside a build- ing, we couldn’t hear the people at the other end!” T e last straw for him was that the Blue- tooth speakers designed to resolve the problem were never delivered. “After three months, we were still waiting for the system to be fi xed and of course were paying the network provider for a service we couldn’t use.” HAAS wanted to solve three main challenges:

• acceptable audio quality on PTT handsets in any environment, inside or outside;

• constant connectivity, allowing crews to talk

Below: on call, ambulance crews of Heathrow Air Ambulance Service. Right: Intechnology’s exclusive BB3G handset

to each other, the Emergency Air Team and the control centre;

• the ability to centrally monitor and manage the crews’ location.

InTechnology’s solution At this point, HAAS turned to an InTechnol- ogy partner who recommended InTechnology’s Instant Communications services. T ese have enabled HAAS to use the push-to-talk technol- ogy it wanted – but this time, with Instant Talk, it has a business-grade solution that uses 2G over a number of networks to ensure an unbroken service. Although the service is available on normal

mobile phones, HAAS chose to use InTech- nology’s own ‘ruggedized’ handsets, which not only incorporate mobile phone technology but are robust, waterproof and dustproof. HAAS is now benefi ting from the full suite

of services off ered by Instant Communications: • Instant Talk: instant communication on ei- ther a one-to-one or a group basis;

• Instant Alert: adds a layer of security to fast response lone workers attending an incident;

• Instant Locate: allowing the control centre to locate and deploy the nearest crew.

Practical benefi ts HAAS is seeing many benefi ts from using In- stant Communications. Crews can now talk to each other, the group and the control centre easily and instantly, wher- ever they are. T ey can also use the same handset to alert hospital staff to incoming pa- tients, shaving vital seconds off patient assessment time on arrival. And costs have fallen because one handset acts as both a mobile phone and a two-way push-to- talk handset. Colin Walker-White

says HAAS is seeing ben- efi ts across several areas:


• Improved effi ciency. Colin can see where the crews are instantly and can allocate the appro- priate crew to an incident.

• Improved communications. With a consist- ently high level of connectivity and excellent audio quality, crews can talk to each other, the Emergency Air Team, the control centre and hospitals.

• Improved patient care. At the same time as calling the control centre, from the same hand- set crews can phone hospitals or other partner services immediately after they reach a patient, in advance of the actual handover, shaving critical minutes off the recovery process.

• Improved crew safety. Potentially vulnerable fast-response staff working on their own can simply press the alert button on the handset. It will silently communicate with the control centre, which can listen in, locate and send help if necessary.

• Improved administration. Incoming calls can be prioritized and queued and records of all fi les can be downloaded from the Instant Communications Manager Client and saved for compliance or legal purposes.

A week to remember So happy is HAAS with the InTechnology In- stant Communications services that Colin is hoping to persuade some of the major compa- nies they work with across the country to take it up, enabling them to join the chat room and improving effi ciency even further. Colin Walker-White says

“T e turnaround time, the delivery, the product, the service. All have been great. In less than a week In- Technology has achieved something our previous supplier failed to do in over three months. Our ambulance crews and our control centre are very happy.”

LAND mobile October 2011

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