Coming soon to a laptop near you: A London-based air ambulance service has just launched a novel new feature on their web site. The air ambulance’s Interactive Mission Map (which just seems like something that should have an acronym — we’ll say IMM for now) is a way for the charity-funded air medical organization to not only raise vital awareness of its activities, but remind computer-savvy Londoners of the critical service that they provide to the M25.
The online map displays the locations of emergency air ambulance missions carried out by London’s Air Ambulance. Currently, the interactive map displays missions going all the way back to January 1 of this year.
Via the Google Maps API integration, internet visitors to the web site can use their mouse to zero in on particular regions — large or small — and see exactly how often the air ambulance has been responding to transport calls in that area. By clicking on the individual markers or “pins” on the screen, you can even see more details about the particular missions: the incidents involved (such as falls, stabbings, car accidents, rail accidents, and so on) and the time the marker was last updated; talk about an innovative way to remind computer users how much we depend on air ambulance services.
The map, only showing the air ambulance responses since January, currently shows a huge cluster of response markers in the London area. Dozens and dozens of individual red pins — at least a hundred — all corresponding to different incidents or multiple incidents in the past few months.
The map data is refreshed every day. The event markers incude not only helicopter transports that take place during the day, but emergency calls responded to by the air ambulance service’s rapid response vehicles at night.
The location pins on the online map represent general vicinities, and not precise locations.
According to London Air Ambulance’s medical director Dr. Gareth Davies, giving web site visitors on their home computers a “snapshot” of the amount of work the air ambulance team does across the region will hopefully “highlight how much work the [air ambulance] charity does and the vital role it plays in helping to save lives.”
London’s Air Ambulance, just one of many charity-funded air ambulances operating in Great Britain, responds to over 2,000 emergency calls every year in the “M25,” named after the roughly-circular M25 motorway, which is home/work to over 10 million people. The air ambulance only responds to calls involving patients who have experienced critical injuries — such as road/rail collisions, serious falls, and assaults — where every minute counts.
This is a great idea for an interactive feature befitting an air medical site. Not only is it of interest to those in the air medical field, but it’s a fascinating widget that engages ordinary people on their home computers as well. This is especially important for London’s Air Ambulance, since its activities are funded entirely by charitable contributions, and thus relies on keeping people well aware of the life-saving services it provides in order to keep providing those services.
Here in the United States, not as many air ambulances are charity-funded, and people seem to be generally less aware of air ambulances and the vital role they play in the American healthcare system. Nevertheless, shouldn’t air medical organizations likewise reach out to people via the internet, computers, and social media? I know if such an online map existed for Florida, I’d be checking it regularly.
Could we, someday, see another air ambulance site with a similar interactive feature? Only time will tell.