The progress of emergency medicine and the technology that’s inside of modern ambulances helped to save millions of people around the world. Yet, in many cases the response time to acute life threatening situations is still too long, with too many people dying that could have been rescued. Modern technologies, such as automatic stoplight signaling, are helping to cut that time, but ambulances can’t be everywhere while traffic and distance play a big role. Momentum is a software product developed by DOS Group, a Swiss firm, that allows emergency response centers to rapidly identify, notify, and direct trained people to stricken individuals in their vicinity. The software’s smarts include deciding who are the best people for the job, whether they’re available and close enough to react in a timely manner, plus the software can keep tabs to make sure the situation is properly addressed.
We spoke with Stefano Doninelli, CEO and Founder of DOS Group to find out how Momentum is already helping to save lives and what it can do for communities around the world looking to improve their medical emergency response systems.
Gene Ostrovsky, Medgadget: Please give us an overview of Momentum and how it works to get first responders to emergency sites faster than ever before.
Stefano Doninelli, CEO & Founder DOS Group: Momentum is a mass notification management system whose distinctive feature is that it can be used by both public bodies and institutions and by private companies.
How does it work? When an emergency occurs, the system uses the pre-set selection algorithm to automatically select the user who is ready to take action, not only on the basis of their skills and availability but also on their proximity to the event. The software is currently in use in ambulance alarm control center’s, police stations, hospitals and civil protection forces. Private sector firms, too, find Momentum the ideal system for selecting the best-qualified technician who is closest to where they are needed.
Momentum is becoming increasingly successful in managing first responders, as shown by its impressive results in terms of, inter alia, the number of lives saved. For example, in Switzerland, only the canton of Ticino, in 2016, achieved a survival rate higher than 50%, the European average being 14%.
In the past, notifying persons trained in performing heart massage (first responders) involved sending out a text message to all those registered at the alarm control center. This “archaic” system entailed high alert management costs, a considerable delay in working out who was in a position to intervene, and a lack of control over how that person found their way to the site of the emergency. Momentum, though, now enables us to select more securely, rapidly and automatically, the first responder closest to the patient, but also to better manage and monitor their training. Firstly, the problem of an overload of unnecessary calls to the center has been resolved now that the operators can concentrate on giving effective assistance to callers and hence to the people closest to the patient.
To sum up: the alarm control center can see on a map and at any time who has been selected to go to an incident and can communicate with that user if it is thought necessary, while the rescuer is automatically notified of the patient’s exact position, where the defibrillator is located, and how many minutes away the ambulance is. We see this last point as crucial, because it helps the system to select only those rescuers who really can get to the patient before the ambulance arrives, in an immediate and effective manner. So it’s also digitalization that has made it possible for 57% of lives to be saved, in a real digital revolution for the protection of human life.
Medgadget: Where did the idea come from and how did it grow into an actual service? Where does it currently operate and how many people do you serve? How many people are involved in providing the service?
Doninelli: It’s thanks to the valuable and fruitful cooperation with the Ticino Cuore foundation that the DOS Group has been able to design and develop a product with state-of-the-art technology, which due to its unique features, has created an extremely effective first responder network management system. Apart from what’s already been described, namely how and why the changeover from the old to the new intervention management system took place, Momentum has also enabled us to solve the problem of how to manage first responders’ licenses and personal details. How did it do this? Simply by using a web interface that not only enables each rescuer to manage their own personal details but also the administrators (in our case, the Foundation) to do likewise.
Momentum was therefore designed to notify emergencies to a group of registered users, thereby providing the best possible response to the need to manage communications and alert systems. The product can therefore be integrated with all existing alarm or event management and release systems and comprises both web and mobile interfaces (usable via an app for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone), connecting the center with individual users’ devices for communications.
While timeliness is absolutely essential to the successful outcome of an intervention, and the careful and effective use of road vehicles helps protect the environment, Momentum is also the ideal technology for combining both to achieve extraordinary efficiency and effectiveness. Other features of the product, which should not be underestimated, are the communications systems used, such as push notifications, text messages, voicemails, paging, emails and more. All these systems enable the alarm center to send out calls for help in real time.
Owing to their compatibility with the platform, optimum functionality and a high level of reliability are assured without the client being required to invest in any specialized and expensive infrastructure.
The centers do not therefore have to worry about having dedicated resources or staff with particular skills, because the DOS Group has a large team working solely on the continuing development of new functionalities – they are about to produce a new mobile version – and also on their maintenance and support, which they can provide 24 hours a day and in four languages.
The Momentum system now manages more than 10,000 registered rescuers through more than seven centers now operating across Europe. We are also engaged in developing more new activations but, most importantly, in major projects involving the use of Momentum not only at center level, but also nationally, and in more countries.
Medgadget: Is it intended only for use by professional medics, police, and firefighters, or does it include trained volunteers as well? How do all the players cooperate to help a stricken individual?
Doninelli: As Momentum’s management is skills-based, it can decide from the start, and automatically, how many people to select from the groups to which they belong or according to the skill required. It allows us therefore to independently manage the selection of each user or group even if the parameters of each one differ from each other. For example, we can decide to select two professionals with blue lights and at the same time three (non-professional) first responders, the main consideration being that they should be able to reach the patient before the ambulance arrives. This ensures that only trained personnel and those who can work with each other are sent to where the incident has occurred.
This is all, of course, constantly monitored by the center, which can observe the effectiveness and efficiency of the interventions, without intervening itself. The added value of the system lies in the way in which the geolocation of the responders is activated only once the intervention has been accepted by the selected user. This helps to maintain the rescuers’ privacy while also preserving battery life.
Medgadget: Can you give us some interesting examples of Momentum helping to save people in an emergency for whom a typical ambulance service would have been less than optimal?
Doninelli: Perhaps the simplest and clearest example is the one that involved me personally. I live in a mountain village of 200 inhabitants and am registered on the system as a first responder. One evening, while walking my dog, I got a notification on my smartphone. The village isn’t easily or rapidly accessible, but the Momentum solution and its mobile app enabled me to take immediate action even before the arrival of the emergency services.
At least one incident a day is recorded in the canton of Ticino, with a response in over 90% of cases. All that adds up to a highly successful intervention.
Medgadget: We’ve read about United Hatzalah in Israel that is a similar project that seems to be based on volunteers. Are you aware of them and if so, can you compare and contrast Momentum with United Hatzalah?
Doninelli: Yes, I know it, but not in depth. What we can say is that Momentum is an advance on what United Hatzalah offers. That’s because our system can constantly optimize the network of responders on the ground.
Certainly, the value of Momentum is that it uses technology that is available worldwide, as we well know, namely smartphones, which nowadays we all have.
We’re confident that the Momentum solution will spread like wildfire in double-quick time; due not least to its results in terms of the number of lives saved in Ticino; we hope that the media will give it strong backing and help disseminate a new culture in which people will in future be able to save themselves.
Medgadget: Are there plans to expand Momentum, perhaps make it a world-wide phenomenon? What are the plans for the future?
Doninelli: Yes, of course! I find it difficult to believe that successes in terms of human lives saved are limited to a single region; our idea is to make this technology as widely available as possible so that everyone can use it, including people in countries where living conditions are very difficult. This is, of course, ambitious, and to actually bring it about we need help from all sides – from policy-makers, the mass media and institutions.
How does DOS GROUP see the future of man being affected by the use of technology? Momentum is proof that technology, while it is indeed fundamental, will never completely replace man because it lacks intuition, the ability to plan ahead and, above all, humanity.