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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 August, 2003, 07:51 GMT 08:51 UK
Photo message plan to save lives
Fireman taking photo of casualty with phone
Taking an image of a casualty during a demonstration
Firefighters in Fife are testing an emergency photo messaging scheme to help save more lives.

Officers will now be able to send images of injuries to doctors by mobile phone before patients reach hospital.

Fourteen Fife Fire and Rescue Services officers have been given photo messaging mobile phones to trial the service.

Doctors at the Queen Margaret Hospital in Dunfermline and at Kirkcaldy's Victoria Infirmary are also participating in the scheme.

Fife Firemaster Mike Bitcon said: "At A&E it is easy to see if an accident victim has a broken leg, but if we can send a picture of a casualty in the position we find them, then A&E can prepare for the possibility of chest injuries from a steering wheel and so on.

A picture tells a thousand words and that is what this is about
Mike Bitcon
"They can also make the decision on whether to come out to assist at the scene of the accident.

"A picture tells a thousand words and that is what this is about. It's the first time we will have used this technology but I'm hopeful it will save lives."

Lorna McLeod, a consultant at Queen Margaret Hospital, said correct treatment in the early stages was vital.

"Actually seeing these images beforehand allows us to assess how serious an accident is and how high an impact it probably has had on a victim," she said.

"It is also invaluable when accidents happen out of traditional working hours as a doctor on call will have a phone and can make this judgement immediately from home."

Dr Lorna McLeod studies the pictures in hospital
Dr Lorna McLeod studies the pictures in hospital
Orange has already trained those using the system on the various ways to send messages.

Orange Business Solutions marketing director Cynthia Gordon said the move opened up the range of uses for its network.

"Together with Fife, we are showing that mobile data applications have a valuable role to play in both the commercial and public sectors," she said.

The trial will run for six months and then its impact will be reviewed.

Mr Bitcon predicted: "I know this will make a difference - we had 27 fatalities and 328 casualties in the Fife region last year and we are hoping to see this number decrease."

The BBC's Colin Blane
"Technology designed for fun could have a serious future in saving lives"

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