Researchers at the Norwegian Centre for Integrated Care and Telemedicine, University Hospital of North Norway, Tromsø, Norway recently tested the merits of 3G mobile video calling in emergency situations. The researchers took 180 high school students and had them perform emergency first aid in simulated cardiac arrest situations with the aid of experienced medical staff providing guidance over the phone. They split the students into two groups--one where students received voice instructions and the other where they received instructions through a video call.
The researchers surveyed the students after the simulation and found that the majority of the students in both groups thought the video calls were superior to the audio-only calls. The survey found that video call instructions boosted the confidence of lay rescuers because of the added visual contact and video supervision provided by the new medium.
Interestingly, those students who did not use video calls during the trial commented afterward that they believed that mobile video technology was still immature. The video group complained about the audio quality of the video calls--which could present a problem if lay rescuers mishear an instruction during a life-or-death situation.
Earlier this year a group of interns at Northern Kentucky University’s Center for Applied Informatics created an iPhone app that helps enable users who have been trained in CPR to be called to the aid of nearby strangers in need. The app was launched at a press conference in San Ramon, California with Fire Chief Richard Price, International Association of Fire Chiefs President Jack Parow, Workday CEO Dave Duffield, and Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Media and others. Users receive an alert from the 911 dispatch center if someone in their general area is in need of CPR.
The Norwegian study also isn't tackling a new idea, we've written about mobile-enabled consultations via video calling before. Perhaps the most prominent of vendors in the space is 3GDoctor, which has been offering and consulting on mobile videos calls for healthcare for years. In 2010, the company began offering video consultations over iPhone's FaceTime application in the UK and Ireland.