In air healthcare

RDT's Tempus 2000 already saved one passenger's life and it should prove to be a valuable asset for Royal Jet, the first users of the system in the region

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By  Neil Denslow Published  February 11, 2004

|~|tempus_m.jpg|~||~|If a passenger suffers a medical problem during a flight then it is up to the cabin crew to provide assistance. Crewmembers without any medical experience must perform first aid and also assess whether the aeroplane needs to make an emergency landing. A system recently launched by RDT in the Middle East will now greatly help crewmembers make these decisions by linking the sick passenger directly to a doctor on the ground. RDT’s Tempus 2000 system takes medical readings from ill passengers and transmits them in real time to a medical groundstation. The remote medical monitoring kit is used by commercial airlines and corporate jet companies around the world, and Royal Jet recently became the first operator in the Middle East to implement the system. “If you compare using the Tempus 2000 with a scenario where you have one cabin crewmember looking after a patient who is unwell and another cabin crewmember running back and forth to the cockpit, having the Tempus 2000 on board is clearly better for everyone,” says Dr. Anders Nyquist, medical coordinator, Royal Jet. “Having this system and fully trained staff onboard is something that can give an airline a real advantage.” Crewmembers do not need to have had any medical experience in order to use the Tempus 2000. Instead, when someone is taken sick onboard a plane, they just need to attach the patient to the device, which then sends the medical readings to doctors at MedAire’s 24 hour base in Phoenix, USA, via the aircraft’s inflight telephone system. Once the connection has been made, the crewmember communicates directly with the doctor and they both have access to the same on-screen information. The doctor is then in full control of the incident and is able to offer full treatment advice. “What we specialise in is the development of technically complex pieces of equipment to be used by non-technical and non-medical experts,” says Graham Murphy, managing director, RDT. “What’s clever about the Tempus is the fact that the equipment is totally intuitive for the crew to use. That means even when they come back to it after being trained they have absolutely no problem using it.” The Tempus 2000 takes a range of medical readings, including blood pressure, pulse, temperature, breath-gas analysis and even an electrocardiogram (ECG), which allows the doctor to remotely monitor a patient’s heart. The Tempus 2000 also features an integrated voice link and a digital video camera, which is used to photograph areas of a patient’s body. With all this information available, the MedAire doctor can give medical advice, and say whether or not an aircraft really needs to divert, which is a major cost consideration for a commercial airliner. “The doctor can offer full treatment advice to the crew, therefore, avoiding unnecessary and stressful diversions, or advise where the plane should divert to if they need to get the patient down as soon as possible,” says Kate Murphy, executive director of sales & marketing, RDT. The Tempus 2000 system has already helped save someone’s life. While at 37 000 feet on a bmi flight from Chicago to Manchester a passenger was diagnosed as having suffered from a heart attack as a result of an ECG sent to MedAire. Using the information at hand the stewardess was able to administer emergency treatment and the passenger safely completed the journey. The stewardess in this incident had been trained on the device over nine months previously but she was able to use it without any problems. The system was designed with simplicity in mind, with easy to use features and a series of help screens. “The crewmember who was using the Tempus in this [Chicago-Manchester] incident had been trained on it over nine months previously. What’s clever about the Tempus is the fact that the equipment is so simple to use,” explains Kate Murphy. To ensure that the Tempus 2000 receives a consistent and resilient signal via the Inmarsat Satcom link, which is accessed via ARINC, RDT designed and manufactured its own specialist technology, called Advanced Data Robustness (ADR). The signal that transmits data from the aircraft goes through at least eight different translations before it reaches its final destination on the ground. There are many potential failure points but ADR overcomes these challenges and ensures that the Tempus 2000 connects to the system at the first attempt. “We developed our technology so it was able to deal with some of the inherent weaknesses in that [eight translations] system. ADR effectively gives us a first time connection rate of about 95% compared to 30% to 40% typically,” explains Graham Murphy. After the connection has been made it is vital that the system maintains it for the duration of the call. With an average medical emergency call lasting about 20 minutes, RDT set a benchmark of guaranteeing at least half an hour per call including both the integrated voice and digital video links. “With our technology we can consistently maintain calls for 30 minutes,” says Graham Murphy. If there is a break in the signal, ADR has buffers built into the system to prevent any data loss. The software constantly monitors the connection, and if there is a problem the data is saved and sent when the connection is re-established. “If you send an e-mail it’s not so important but if you’re sending medical information it could be a life and death situation, so we use our patented technology to make sure the information gets to its destination securely,” says Graham Murphy.||**||

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