Australian State Announces Funding for AI in Emergency Call-Taking
Monday, February 10, 2020 | Comments

The government in Victoria, Australia, announced A$1.71 million (US$1.14 million) in funding for two new emergency services projects using artificial intelligence (AI) technology to fast-track urgent care to people suffering cardiac arrests.

Ambulance Victoria will receive $1.71 million from the Andrews Labor Government’s Safer Care Victoria Innovation Fund for two new projects. The Artificial Intelligence in Cardiac Arrest project will receive A$1.36 million (US$908,000) to help 0-0-0 operators identify signs of cardiac arrest over the phone.

The AI technology runs in the background of incoming emergency calls and picks up key words, language and sound patterns of the caller that are likely to indicate the patient is having a cardiac arrest. If the system recognizes signs of a cardiac arrest, it alerts the ESTA triple zero call-taker to dispatch a high-priority ambulance and talk bystanders through CPR or defibrillation. Ambulance Victoria will be working with Monash University to develop the technology.

Ambulance Victoria also received an additional A$350,000 (US$233,600) to provide mental health-related emergency callers with an option to use messaging to initiate a video call. The limitations of voice-only triage are many people who call triple zero with a mental health concern often end up being transported to an emergency department by ambulance, causing distress and delaying face-to-face specialist care.

“In a cardiac arrest, every second counts,” said Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos. “Cutting-edge artificial intelligence will help paramedics get to the scene of a cardiac arrest faster — reducing the chance of brain damage and giving them a greater chance of surviving.”

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