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Bikes, cars and emergency services calls

  • Posted by Michael Carroll
  • July 6, 2012 10:10 AM BST
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  • 1,197 views

A mate went head on with a car while we were riding our motorcycles yesterday - luckily no-one hurt, but it did provide an interesting experience of calling the emergency services from a rural location.

I've often seen the "emergency calls only" message when in areas of zero mobile coverage, but never knew how that worked in reality. I was immediately connected to an operator who routed my call to the local police (because no-one was injured, I just wanted to report the incident, as I thought we are required to do here in the UK). Trouble is, I then moved a fraction and the call dropped.

Or so I thought. Within seconds the operator was back on the line and re-connected me.

I'd like to say a big thank you to the operator, police, and most importantly whoever has come up with this technology. I'm also suddenly warming to the idea of a European version of the US E-911 standard, as one of the biggest difficulties we had was figuring out where we were. I'm not sure having both vehicles place calls automatically is the right way to go, however, as there was no need for ambulances and they might have been sent out unnecessarily, thus diverting scarce resources from people who really need them.

But there is definitely a case for some sort of location-based element to emergency calls. In this instance we managed that using my friend's on-bike Garmin satellite navigation device (which, incidentally, didn't have a scratch on it, and continued to work well despite being mounted on the now battered handlebars).

Later, we forced my friend to hospital for a check up, so there's a point about remote medical monitoring to be made here. I've heard all the talk, but it was only while sitting in Accident & Emergency that I understood just how important such kit is. My concern is that my friend would take a turn for the worse overnight (he did headbutt a car, then somersault over the top of it, cracking the roof-rack along the way), so it would have been great to take home something that could keep check on him.

I understand this equipment is already out there, doesn't need huge capacity on mobile/fixed networks, and can definitely benefit everyone involved - doctors and patients. I don't understand why it's not already pervasive, though.

Anyway. A big thank you to Peterborough hospital's A&E department for making sure my friend was alright. Guys, you do a tough job, but don't think for a second it isn't appreciated.

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