Imagine it is October 29, 2025. You are sitting up in bed watching a streaming video through your Google Glasses +8 while also checking your alma mater’s basketball scores. Your life partner suddenly turns to you, throws off her Google Glasses , says something about having a crushing headache and suddenly slumps over. Remembering your first aid training, you shake and shout, and realizing there is no response you hit the button on your headset. “Emergency, I need help!” you shout. The Google heads up display (HUD) immediately clears, and shows a short menu of options –
You shout “MEDICAL!” Almost immediately, an avatar of a public safety dispatcher pops up on the HUD, and a soothing voice says; “EMS 911, we have your location on GPS. Please confirm your address by saying it aloud”. You respond with the address, the dispatcher confirms, and immediately asks you what the problem is.
After answering two questions; 1. Is the patient alert? and 2. Is the patient breathing?, the dispatcher directs you to turn your head towards the patient. At the same time, she takes control of the headset zooms in on your mate and tells you to hold still for five seconds, revealing the patient appears to be unresponsive, pale, and may be in seizure. She asks some basic previous history questions, background information and tells you that paramedics have been dispatched.
By then, the dispatcher had already decided this was a serious medical call, and alerted the closest fire station and paramedic unit. As they began their response, the paramedic pulls up the video and a summary of the information you provided, while also pinpointing your home on a map. The paramedic in the “right seat” taps a screen on the dash. Immediately, a tone in your headset signals someone is contacting you. The paramedic’s avatar shows on your screen. “I need you to look at the patient and hold still for a few seconds” he commands. After just a few seconds, he tells you to lean over and tip back the patient’s head. As you do so, you hear a large gasp of air, and your mate starts breathing easier. “We want you to hold the head back until we get there” you hear through your headset. You do nothing but focus on keeping the airway open. At the same time the paramedic watches through your headset as you work to keep your spouse alive. “You’re doing good…. Has the patient ever had a seizure before? .. Any history of diabetes?…High blood pressure?… Who is her doctor?…Is your front door unlocked?…
It seems like 20, but after only 5 minutes you hear a loud knock on the front door and the shout “Fire Department! Where are you!” “Up here!” you yell back, and after a few seconds the crew of five EMTs and paramedics roll into the room with all of their tools. Within a very short period of time they have an IV established, airway controlled, patient packaged and moving towards the ambulance. During this rapid sequence of events, the engine captain asks for the patient’s personal server (cell phone), and within a few seconds has downloaded coded information and permissions, linking the patient’s hospital and physician medical records to the paramedic’s data terminal. As the medic walks to the rig carrying the gear, he moves his eyes, scrolling through the patients’ medical history, looking for pertinent medical information. He then links his headset to the emergency room, where an on-call neurosurgeon answers up, looks at the patient via camera, reviews the medical notes, and orders up a surgical team for potential “crash” brain surgery. Soon thereafter the patient is wheeled into the operating room where a minimally invasive surgical procedure brings a hemorrhagic brain bleed to a screeching halt. The patient is released after four days with minimal neuro deficits and a renewed appreciation for life.
I got a little long winded with this scenario. But, as an ex paramedic I love fantasizing about how technology will influence pre-hospital medical care in the future. Initially I just wanted to explore the concept of how 911 will likely change in the next couple of decades, or at least should change. It is no secret that many consider our current 911 systems antiquated. I used to oversee the operations of a 911 center that was (and still is) using computer software from the late 80’s. Many other centers are in the same boat. Still others have updated their proprietary software programs, prone to locking up and/or crashing. Many of these systems do not leverage the power of the cloud, or interface with existing social media platforms and networks. This is a topic for another post.
Through my cataract clouded crystal ball I imagine;
- Snap on HUD systems that attach to any pair of glasses, and eventually a contact lens version controlled by simply moving your eye and blinking.
- Hand held “personal servers” that control all of your communication devices and HUD. In other words your cell phone controls everything, including your vehicles, home appliances, television, government identification documents, financial transactions and confidential personal and medical records. The form factor will be thin and flexible, and have the ability to fit in a pants pocket.
- The personal server can continuously receive bio-sensor data from surface applied, implanted or swallowed sensors.If basic vital signs get way out of whack (in cardiac arrest for example), the server automatically notifies the closest emergency response agency and also sound a local alarm. For those of us in the EMS world, it would be really cool if it had the capability to deliver a couple of defibrillator shocks if someone was able to place it on the patient’s chest (but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here! :)
Some futurists and techo types have an even more aggressive view of the stuff we will have access to in the future, included implanted devices. As an old geezer I can’t quite get my arms around having something shoved into my body space. Not sure I want to be that “connected”. But, I’m sure others will, including my daughter who might as well have her phone implanted given it never seems to be out of her hands.
Regardless, as an aging baby boomer I’m hoping these concepts and ideas get adopted, hopefully before this old baby boomer pops a blood vessel in his brain.