South African paramedics responding to serious accidents are being provided with life-saving information through Helivac Assist, a first-of-its-kind centralised database that enables paramedics to access comprehensive patient information using a personal digital assistant (PDA).
The revolutionary software package, which is not seen anywhere else in the world, was developed in house by Johannesburg-based Helivac – a leading provider of emergency services solutions. Helivac product developer Jean-Pierre van Tonder, notes that the software was officially launched nationwide in June 2011.
“Helivac Assist provides Helivac members with the peace-of-mind in knowing that paramedics will have instant access to their personal information – such as allergies or medical conditions – based on any number of personal items belonging to the member, including an ID book, cell phone number or car registration plate,” he explains.
“Helivac Assist software works when the member uploads personal information online, which is then made immediately available to the emergency services arriving at the scene,” he continues.
Van Tonder points out that Helivac Assist is available to all paramedics, who can download the software onto their PDAs via the Helivac Web site. They can alternatively contact the Helivac call centre to obtain the relevant information.
“Helivac Assist does not only save vital minutes in attending to the victim, it also provides additional relevant information, which includes; medical aid details, allergies and next-of-kin details.”
Johannesburg-based paramedic Martin Jeffrey believes that Helivac Assist will help to greatly improve emergency medical care in South Africa.
“Helivac Assist is a great tool for paramedics, as we are very often called to the scene of an accident where patients are unable to communicate with us the extent of their injuries or any other personal details.”
Jeffrey points out that Helivac Assist also helps paramedics to ensure that that they are providing the patient with the correct care, en-route to the best-suited hospital.
“By simply accessing some minor details of the patient through Helivac Assist, paramedics can establish what medication or treatment to administer, while transporting the patient to either a state or private hospital, depending on their medical aid details,” he continues.
“The days of families only finding out about their loved ones being in an accident after hours of searching are long gone, as Helivac Assist enables the medical and rescue team to notify the family members as soon as possible.”
Van Tonder notes that Helivac members update the system themselves via the company’s Web site. “By updating as much information as possible on a regular basis, Helivac members can be assured of receiving the best possible care in the shortest amount of time. In the event of an emergency, for example, knowing the patient’s blood type and medical history can go a far way to saving a life.”
Helivac Assist is entirely developed and maintained in-house, and Van Tonder highlights the fact that the company plans to constantly upgrade software and add more fields and features when required.
“The next phase of the upgrading process will be creating the capabilities for all Helivac members to be able to load their photos on the system; thereby, ensuring even faster identification for emergency response teams.”
Looking to the future, Van Tonder is confident that Helivac will continue to set the trend in providing world-class medical treatment to accident or trauma victims with an unsurpassed round-the-clock advanced emergency rescue service.
“Helivac endeavours to ensure that it cuts out all unnecessary delays by accessing a countrywide network of ambulances, medical evacuation helicopters and highly-experienced medical teams. This commitment and dedication to members’ wellbeing puts Helivac at the forefront of emergency service delivery – a unique service offering that an increasing number of South Africans are becoming aware of.”