Exclusive – New Technology Helps Find Woman Who Suffered Medical Episode

In Editor Choice, Local

It’s a first for Northumberland County emergency services.

Emergency services were alerted of a woman in medical distress in Alnwick/Haldimand Township through an Apple Watch.

Matt Halmasy, Captain of Alnwick/Haldimand Township Fire Department said the call came in on Wednesday, September 11, 2019 at approximately 7:23 p.m. for a medical assist.

No information was given regarding the type of medical call.

“The location was given as GPS (Global Positioning System) coordinates which made it a little difficult for us to locate because dispatch was telling us it was in an area where there were no roads,” said Halmasy.

Firefighters had no idea what type of medical call it was. It was just a 9-1-1 call for a medical problem and GPS coordinates.

As more information was given to firefighters from the communications centre in Peterborough, it was determined the medical assist was received from an Apple Watch.

Halmasy realized it was a similar call the fire department received a week prior to a trailer park north of Centreton.

“That’s what lead us to respond to the right trailer. That one a week previous came across as a medical assist from an Apple Watch as well, but for whatever reason, we were able to get the proper address from that one, but the second time it just gave GPS coordinates.”

Prior to getting the information regarding the trailer, firefighters were setting up to deploy an ATV because it appeared the medical assist was in a field or wooded area.

Halmasy said firefighters were the first emergency service to arrive at the trailer. They found the woman unconscious and not breathing. Firefighters immediately started chest compressions (CPR).

When paramedics transferred the woman to hospital she was conscious and breathing on her own.

“This is great technology,” said Halmasy.

“It’s the first time we’ve come across that. What’s really nice is even if the person is unconscious we can still get a 9-1-1 call. We don’t know the extent of injuries, but if the person is unconscious and alone, we still get that 9-1-1 call.”

The Apple Watch Series 4 is the first of its kind to come out with Fall Detection and Emergency SOS.

Apple Watch can initiate an Emergency SOS if a person takes a hard fall and doesn’t appear to move. Before the call to emergency services, Apple Watch will alert the person that it has detected a fall. If the person doesn’t respond, “it will tap your wrist, sound an alarm, and then call emergency services.”

So if the person wearing the watch doesn’t re-set the alarm within a minute it will call 9-1-1.

“We got lucky with this one. We thought it was going to be in a field, but because we had the call previous, we were able to go right to the proper location.”

The technology with the Apple Watch phones is very new to Canada.

“It’s great technology.”

“I think it made a big difference. You don’t have to be awake for it to call 9-1-1 which is fantastic.”

Pete Fisher
Author: Pete Fisher

Has been a photojournalist for over 30-years and have been honoured to win numerous awards for photography and writing over the years. Best selling author for the book Highway of Heroes - True Patriot Love

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