An Ordnance Survey software pilot has helped save lives, say CFRs


An Ordnance Survey software pilot has helped save lives, so say the Community First Responders (CFRs) who used it.

The prototype mobile web app was used by a sample of CFRs from across the country over an eight week period.

During this time the sample group were called out to 440 emergency situations, of which the prototype was used on 270 occasions. Of those 270 cases three involved patients suffering cardiac arrest whose lives were saved following CPR.

CFRs are volunteers that respond to emergencies, particularly in rural areas, providing Basic Life Support to patients before the arrival of an ambulance. A major difficulty they encounter is finding patients’ homes, especially when it is dark or if the home is remote or has neither a number nor a name board.

Mark Norbury, National Ambulance Resilience Unit Coordinator, says:

“There are three people alive today who might well not have been but for the prototype OS created. In two thirds of cases where the pilot software was used it speeded up the CFRs response to the patient’s side. Whilst it is difficult to identify exactly whether the earlier arrival of a CFR improved a patient’s outcome, it was clear in two thirds of the cases reviewed that the CFR got to patient quicker with less stress because of the ease of finding their patient’s house.

CFRs appear to be getting more and more calls in wider areas than historically and the pilot scheme enabled them to respond with confidence in finding their patient. Finding named houses, especially in the dark, is an absolute life saver.”

There are approximately 20,000 CFRs supporting communities in Great Britain today, and they respond to around 50,000 emergency calls a year. Each CFR covers an eight mile radius and receives details of the emergency via an SMS.

With this information they then search the Internet on their mobile device to try and identify where the address is.

The problem CFRs find with Internet mapping is that it only gives an approximation of an address and not an exact location, which, when a life hangs in the balance, loses vital time.

Jonathan Benger, National Clinical Director for Urgent Care, NHS England, says:

“This initiative has the potential to positively influence the outcome of a patient attended by a Community First Responder. It is often simple pilots like these that have big impacts, and it would be useful if they were explored further. Development of this type of software could be vital to people across the country who find themselves in need of urgent and emergency care.”

The prototype features OS’s accurate and up-to-date mapping data that responders can access at no cost under the Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA). This data is accessible to the CFRs on any connected device using two of OS’s new APIs, OS Routes API and OS Places, which is the most comprehensive and up-to-date address database in Great Britain, with over 39 million unique address entries.

The CFRs are able to copy and paste or type the patients’ address into the OS pilot app’s search bar which then presents a map with the property’s precise whereabouts, which can also be routed to from the CFRs current position.

John Kimmance, Ordnance Survey Director of Public Sector, says:

“The trial has ended and we are now seeking the funds to take this forward. Feedback from CFRs have identified a number of ways we can improve on what we have done. Projects like this demonstrate in a very clear way to the public the value of the agreement we have with Government. Also, because our data is playing a part in saving lives, it clearly demonstrates the value of having the latest and most accurate data picture to work from.”

[Image from Ordnance Survey]

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