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Thursday, October 22, 1998 Published at 10:20 GMT 11:20 UK


Health

Emergency snapshots down the line

Snapshots at accidents could save patients' lives

Ambulance crews in Avon are to test new system which will help paramedics get expert advice on emergency cases, reports Matthew Hill from BBC Bristol.


The BBC's Matthew Hill on the new camera technique
Paramedics in Avon are hoping to save patients' lives with the aid of a digital camera.

Under a new system to be introduced in the region, paramedics will take snapshots of patients with a digital camera.

They will then send them to hospital consultants' computers by mobile phone for instant expert advice.

Currently, doctors are only able to communicate with ambulance crew through two way radios.

Avon ambulance authority believes having an image of the scene of accidents and emergencies will allow them to give a more accurate diagnosis.

Easier

Paramedic Philip Organ said: "We tend not to get involved in direct patient care unless we have to.


[ image: Philip Organ: it is easier to take a photo than get involved in direct patient care]
Philip Organ: it is easier to take a photo than get involved in direct patient care
"It is easier to stand back, to take a picture and get information from the hospital."

Dr Iomhar O'Sullivan, an accident and emergency consultant at Bristol Royal Infirmary, said: "In trauma cases, we rely on a talk-through with the paramedics and a history they can give us from the scene.

"The ability to be able to see the scene more accurately and get images from the scene would allow us to predict, resuscitate and treat patients a lot, lot quicker.

Car accident

It was invented by Narasima Murthy from Bristol University.


[ image: Narasima Murthy: the new system is his brainchild]
Narasima Murthy: the new system is his brainchild
He says he got the idea after he was temporarily paralysed in a car accident. A GP had difficulty describing his injury over the phone to paramedics.

"The ambulance crew responded, but as it was a spinal injury, they realised they could not carry me. They had to call for a specialist ambulance kit with the crew which was very useful," he said.

"I just felt that if we had the facility to transfer images back from the scene, the GP could have transferred this image straight to the crew."

The government's White Paper on the NHS stressed the importance of obtaining as much accurate information from scenes of accidents as possible.

Avon health officials hope that, if the new system works, it might be used nationwide and help save many lives.



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