Imagine a big crowd of people: Demonstrators, maybe, or pilgrims, in a city with chaotic traffic like Rome. Imagine somebody suddenly falling ill in the middle of the crowd. Ambulances and emergency responders are always on call, but it can be difficult to get to people in crowds.
On the occasion of the Jubilee for the Sick and Persons with Disabilities, June 11 2016, Roman rescue service ARES 118 Lazio in cooperation with the Austrian Red Cross started a pilot project to test a system developed by Apus Software GmbH. The First Responder App makes it possible to locate responders precisely in real time, so they can get to people who need help without delay.
“At these kinds of events we face even greater challenges that on the normal jubilee days, because of the special condition of all the people who come to Rome then,” explained Dr. Maria Paola Corradi, General Director of ARES 118 Lazio. The rescue service decided to try out the Apus First Responder App. It is already in use in Austria, and helps first aid organizations use their resources better by geolocating volunteer and professional responders.
In Rome, the volunteer helpers are trained in first aid and work in teams of three. Their job is to assist paramedics in emergencies by keeping the crowd away or helping move immobile patients on stretchers. “Legally, volunteer helpers are not allowed to give medical care themselves. They can only act as ‘observers’,” noted Annamaria Celeste of Apus. “This is to protect them from legal consequences. Only professional paramedics can give medical aid. However, the volunteer teams help speed rescue operations, so it is important to geolocate them. Our app makes that possible.” Normally paramedics and teams communicate by radio, but in chaotic situations alarms and messages might not get through, or only with delay. “The First Responder app gives instant feedback from the teams who are closest.”
The Austrian Red Cross has been using First Responder for some time. “This is an international Best Practice which we are very interested in,” said Dr. Carradi. “So we’re trying the app out in our context. It works on Android and iOS, and is available only to members of aid organizations that provide volunteer helpers at the Jubilee.”