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Ambulance Control Software

This software package was developed by Ladybridge Systems, initially for St John Ambulance Northamptonshire. It is now widely used by St John, the British Red Cross and many private ambulance companies. We also have users in the Australia and the United States.

This brief description can only scratch the surface of what this system offers. Please let us know if you would like a demonstration.


Introduction

The system was developed for use at large events and in the case of major incident call out. It enables multiple controllers to track the availability of resources and to dispatch these in an appropriate manner to handle incoming calls. The system maintains permanent historic records locally and also on a central master database to which data is periodically exported.


Design Goals

  • Implement a common call dispatch system for use at all appropriate venues
  • Provide a continuous clear and unambiguous display of the status of key resources.
  • Ensure that calls are responded to using the most appropriate resources.
  • Track the history of all calls and resources.
  • Produce printed reports of all calls handled.
  • Enable reporting of response time statistics, etc.
  • Allow multiple controllers disparate views of the same data on networked systems.
  • Allow maintenance of a central database for long term historic records.
  • Cross-reference to a central patient report form system to ease location of historic data.

Implementation

The system uses a client-server architecture. The server system runs the database and the client systems provide the user interface for controllers. Both run on any current version of Windows. Typically, one client is also the server system. There is no practical limit to the number of client systems that can be connected. The client displays are automatically updated as things change.

The underlying database is our OpenQM multivalue product which provides fast and secure storage of a virtually unlimited volume of data. The multivalue data model ensures that the system is very easy to extend as new requirements emerge. QM is a very stable commercial grade database and the application software is designed to be restartable without loss of data if the system crashes, for example in the event of a power failure.

The user interface deliberately uses a minimal set of Windows operations so that users who are not Windows whizz-kids can use it without having to get to grips with drag and drop, multiple selections, clever keyboard shortcuts, etc.


Screen Samples

There are many screens. These samples show just a few.....

The main screen is shown below. The upper half displays the status of all available resources (For St John Ambulance readers, this screen is from a training session so don't read too much into who is where!). These are colour coded according to their current status and are divided into classes so that the screen can be set out in various ways and multiple controllers can have different views of the world or a single controller can pan across many classes. In this example, based on the British Grand Prix, the crowd cover ambulances and first aid units are in the left column and the track cover ambulances are in the right column.

In this sample, the lower half of the screen shows details for an active call. At other times it shows a list of active and recent calls.

Typing is kept to a minimum. A new call necessarily requires the call details to be entered but even this can use a speed-type system to perform automatic expansion of short forms personal to the individual controller. Most actions require only two mouse clicks; one to open the pop-up menu for the unit, the other to select the action (on scene, clear, sign-off, etc, etc). When a vehicle leaves the scene or moves to a standby location, a pick list of standard locations relevant to the event is displayed so that this also usually only requires a mouse click.

The system holds a map of the event which is typically scanned in but can come from various sources. Our skeleton Silverstone map came off the web.

The system can superimpose an arbitrary grid onto this map (for historic reasons, the Silverstone grid has no P in its letters!). Resources are displayed on the map according to their status and last known location, derived automatically from the pick list described above, or entered manually or by clicking on the map for non-standard locations. Again, multiple map pages can be set up to display different classes of unit for each controller or a single controller can pan through map pages.

The pop-up action menu for a unit can be selected by clicking on the unit on the map. This makes vehicle dispatch at a big event very easy. A simple mouse click on the map can also be used when entering a call to record its grid location in the system.


Data Tracking

The system tracks the names of ambulance crews and first aid patrols. This information is collected when a crew signs-on and is automatically recorded against any calls assigned to that unit so that those attending an incident can be identified at a later date. Every stage of a call is logged and a printed report can be produced automatically when the call is closed or manually at any time. This report contains a complete record of the response, the basic ASHICE report on leaving scene and a cross-reference to the patient report form(s).

A detailed log of all activity is maintained and can be viewed in its entirety, for a specific call or for a specific unit.

There are many reports available and new ones are usually simple to add.


Radio Traffic

The system has been designed to be used at the same time as operating the radio on a busy event. Ideally, a radio with a headset and footswitch should be used but most actions can be processed with one hand, leaving the other free to work the radio. The pop-up menu that appears when the mouse is clicked on a unit shows only the few actions that are valid based on the current state of the unit. This menu includes an "undo" option to backtrack if an action is accidentally applied, for example, to the wrong unit. It is usually possible to backtrack step by step through the entire day!


Scenarios

The pick lists of default standby locations and medical destinations are based on selection of a "scenario", a collection of information that describes a view of the event. There can be multiple scenarios covering aspects of the site or different controller requirements.

Creation and editing a scenario is a trivial task and is often something that is done as an event progresses, for example, to add an unanticipated new standby location to the list.


The Call Pool

A major design goal of this system is that calls are assigned a unique reference number. Without a wide area network linking different venues, this can only be implemented by each venue having a pool of numbers from which to assign calls. This is coordinated via the central master database.


Security

Every controller signs on to the system with a personal id and password. Each user can further be allocated different levels of access. For example, a terminal could be placed in a major incident control centre. The user of this screen would be able to view the system and enter calls but not dispatch vehicles.


And the Rest!

There is much more to this system than can be described here. The best way to learn what it is about is to see it in action. Please contact us if you would like an evaluation copy.

Unlike most Windows software, this system does not require an enormously powerful PC. It was originally developed on a very low end system so that we knew it would run on almost anything. Version 2 requires a minimum of Windows XP, service pack 3.


The Bad News

Ah, yes. Unfortunately this system is not free, however, because of our special relationship with St John Ambulance, the price tag is ridiculously low by comparison to the normal price for quality bespoke software from a professional software development company. In fact, it is less than you would normally pay for the underlying database product alone! Don't write us off because there is money involved without talking to us first. This is a very cost effective product.

The system will continue to develop as its use expands. We are keen to add features of general interest but would expect to make a small charge for site specific developments. New versions will be downloadable by licensed users.

Please ask us to quote if it all looks interesting.


Downloads

Current versions of the control software can be downloaded here. Right click on the Download link below and select Save As. Alternatively, we can supply this on CD on request for a small additional charge. The software will not operate without a valid authorisation code. Please contact sales@ladybridge.com to arrange an evaluation licence. This is NOT the same as a QM evaluation licence available elsewhere on this web site. You should NOT download and install QM separately as it is part of the download available from the links below.

Version 2-1-1
Software Download 9Mb self-extracting archive This contains the OpenQM database, the application, the user manual and the PowerPoint training presentation.
What's New? Download 140kb pdf A summary of the main changes since release 2-0.
Installation instructions Download 30kb pdf Please read carefully before installing the software.
User manual Download 1.5Mb pdf These are included in the software download. They are available separately to allow prospective users to learn about the software before downloading the larger file. The PowerPoint presentation is somewhat out of date but is still a good overview of the system.
PowerPoint presentation Download 2.7Mb ppt file

NOTE: Version 2 requires a minimum of Windows XP, service pack 3.

Version 2-0-10
Software Download 9Mb self-extracting archive This contains the OpenQM database, the application, the user manual and the PowerPoint training presentation.