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Doctors in Indian city initiate updating of digital map to provide medical aid during emergencies

Vadodara, Gujarat, India, 20 November 2006 – Every new society, new apartment or road that is mushrooming in the expanding city of Vadodara in the western state of Gujarat now finds its precise location in a digital map that is being updated each month.

The Vadodara-based Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Council, a network of medical emergency and city hospitals, in an effort to cut down the time taken during a rescue operation, has initiated digital mapping of the city, and is constantly updating it, so as to give precise locations to ambulances which rush to pick up patients/victims in the shortest possible time.

The EMS Council has appointed a team to monitor changes in the city and make necessary alterations in the map every month. In place of the traditional method of locating a city address and the accompanying lapse of time likely, a constantly updated digital map is now coming to the aid of ambulance drivers, directing them to take precise turns, and informing them about every small lane and landmark.

The people manning the EMS Council control room refer to the digital map as soon as they receive an emergency call, and convey directions to get to the address to ambulance drivers equipped with wireless sets.

The result: a year after the experiment, of the 67 calls the EMS Council received, 38 could be reached in record time due to the precise directions thanks to the digital map.

Digital mapping of the city was solely conceptualised by an EMS Council team and manual work of locating precise addresses was done by staff members of the EMS Council, followed by graphic digital imaging using Autocad software.

Though digital maps are available in state government organisations, these are generally confidential, said EMS officials. One reason why they came up with their own map, instead of relying on the Google Earth version of the same. ‘‘Vadodara’s map may be acessible on Google but it is very complicated and also not updated,’’ said Dr Subroto Das, member secretary, EMS Council, Vadodara.

To keep the map updated, the EMS Council has employed staffers who keep updating city details to makes changes in the map if needed, Dr Das added. The council employed more than 12 cyclists and scooterists to go around the city and locate every new society or landmark which had come up recently.

The digital map of Vadodara is segmented into 29 zones. When an emergency call is received, the information about the location is availed by clicking on the specified area on the computer screen. ‘‘It is important to upgrade the map every month to provide quick medical services for emergencies,’’ Dr Das said.

When the EMS Council control room receives an emergency call, the staff on duty get in touch with the nine (public and private) hospitals which have a tie-up with the council. After an ambulance from the hospital closest to the specified address sets out for the spot, the EMS council staff inform the other hospitals not to send their amblances.

‘‘Earlier, just used to dump a person who needed medical attention into an autorickshaw or any other vehicle available. Our aim is to provide quick medical services with paramedical staff,’’ said Sushmita Das, secretary of Lifeline Foundation for the EMS Council, Vadodara.