University of Extrication: Vehicle Telematics Systems

In Part 1 of this series, fire/rescue and medical responders were introduced to how the OnStar telematics system functions and learned about the Injury Severity Predication information that OnStar Advisers can provide to responding personnel through our...


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In Part 1 of this series, fire/rescue and medical responders were introduced to how the OnStar telematics system functions and learned about the Injury Severity Predication information that OnStar Advisers can provide to responding personnel through our local communications centers. EMS personnel must note how significant it is that OnStar has the ability to predict the probability of severe injury to vehicle occupants, our patients, even before we arrive on scene. This telematics information may allow appropriate additional advanced life support (ALS) resources to be dispatched to the incident scene in a timely manner. Now, in the final part of our discussion of the OnStar telematics system, we look at OnStar’s additional capabilities and how Public Safety responders may take advantage of this technology to improve fire, rescue and medical operations involving OnStar-equipped vehicles.

 

Collision event

Among the 150,000 calls that OnStar Advisors receive each day, an average of 15,000 calls are for life-changing events such as vehicle collisions or medical emergencies. With GPS location technology and direct connection to the vehicle occupants, OnStar Advisors are virtually “on the scene” even before we get the call to respond. Through their telematics system, they can provide local communication centers with the exact location of the incident, initial vehicle occupant information, as well as technical information such as the Delta V (change in velocity over time) and the principal direction of force (PDOF). The Advisor can advise responders if there were multiple collisions and even if it was a rollover event. Using multiple redundant systems for voice and data transmission such as a backup transmitting battery within the OnStar unit, multiple cell towers, re-routing and re-try systems and the human connection of the OnStar Advisor, the robust OnStar system gets this critical information to the local communication and dispatch centers where it is needed by responding personnel. Language line capabilities are also available through the OnStar system when a language barrier exists between the vehicle occupant and the local communications center.

 

Missing or not readily

visible vehicle

In situations where a vehicle crashes and goes off the roadway where it might not be readily visible, the OnStar Advisor has the ability to flash the lights on the car as well as sound the horn so responders may better locate the vehicle. Prior to arrival at the vehicle, OnStar can also unlock the doors, making access to injured occupants quicker and more efficient. By using a very sophisticated aerial imagery software system, the Advisor is shown the terrain and general topographical features around the vehicle’s location.

In one well-documented case in Troutman, NC, responders worked with OnStar to find a patient trapped in a vehicle that had gone off an interstate highway and virtually disappeared from sight in the middle of the afternoon. In this instance, OnStar provided the dispatch center with the highway mile marker so responders knew exactly where to go. While enroute, fire personnel were notified that there were multiple impact points, the car was possibly off the roadway and that the driver was non-responsive. According to Troutman Fire Department personnel, the vehicle was found wedged about 120 feet straight down a ravine because of the accurate information provided by the OnStar Advisor.

 

Door unlock

With General Motors (GM) vehicles that have OnStar systems, the OnStar Advisor can automatically unlock vehicle doors in the event of a child locked inside the vehicle. The organization Safe Kids Worldwide has been tallying fatal incidents where children have been left in cars since 1998. They count 550 cases nationwide where a child has died from hyperthermia or heat stroke while in a car. In 2010, at least 51 children died; in 2011, there were 33. The children have ranged in age from 5 days to 14 years old, though more than half are 2 years old or younger. On average, OnStar performs 67,000 remote door unlocks each month; the majority being unoccupied vehicles whose owners left their keys in their locked vehicle. Child unlocks, however, are also included in this number.

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