Hurting yourself is never fun. We’ll learn how emergency medical care a long way from the emergency room can get better, today on Engineering Works.
Close your eyes and picture this. A desert landscape as seen from a trail high in the Chisos Mountains in West Texas’ Big Bend National Park. Nothing but miles and miles of rocks and sun. Beautiful. Then a pebble rolls under your boot and you’re tumbling down a near-vertical slope. When the dust settles, you’re at the bottom and you’re hurt – bad.
If that happened to you today, it could be a grim picture. The nearest clinic is more than 90 miles away, and it’s more than three-hundred miles to the closest level three trauma hospital with a top emergency room.
Engineers and computer scientists are using high-tech electronics to paint a brighter picture for sick or injured people in remote areas like wide-open West Texas. They’re combining high-speed wireless data transmission with real-time video and audio links into a portable package that will ride in an ambulance.
Emergency medical technicians will be able to confer directly with trauma specialists in the far-away emergency room. They won’t have to wait ’til they get to the hospital to begin treating severe injuries or illness. Eventually, the system will tie medics on far-flung oil platforms or orbiting space stations to expert advice from the emergency room.
It will be a while before this system is up and running, but emergency medics are already field-testing the idea in several Texas counties.