The FINANCIAL — First responders at a crash scene can be the difference between life and death for a critically injured person, but the time it takes to arrive can delay medical care. OnStar’s specially trained Emergency Advisors can help bridge that gap with a service called First Assist.
First Assist allows OnStar Emergency Advisors to provide immediate advice and guidance to victims in distress while they wait for first responders to arrive. These Advisors are certified by the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch (NAED) to provide Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) to people in need.
On Thursday evening, OnStar’s First Assist service was named a Gold Edison Award winner in the Innovative Services, Personal Safety/Security category. OnStar FMV, the company’s new aftermarket product, also won a Gold Edison Award for Best New Safety/Security Product in Transportation. First Assist is offered to both traditional OnStar and FMV subscribers.
“Not all 911 Call Centers have the capabilities to provide EMD advice to parties over the phone. So depending on where an incident takes place, those who are in need of medical help may have to wait for someone to arrive on scene,” said Nick Pudar, OnStar vice president, Planning and Business Development. “With First Assist, OnStar Emergency Advisors can provide emergency advice regardless of where the callers are located.”
According to General Motores, OnStar Emergency Advisors are trained to obtain critical information on a crash victim’s condition and use the information to provide important first-aid instruction to victims or those who may be assisting them. While one Emergency Advisor is providing guidance to the victim(s), another Advisor is contacting local authorities to share information like vehicle location and specific crash details.
“I applaud OnStar for having the foresight and taking the initiative in providing EMD services, especially since not all 911 centers are EMD certified,” said Jim Lanier, division manager at the Alachua County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Office. “It helps the person in need by cutting down the delay of delivering specialized resources to them. It helps victims by giving them that human contact that is so critical in preventing a situation from getting worse.”
OnStar deployed the service as a pilot in late 2010 and since has been averaging more than 1,200 EMD calls each month.
EMD guidance revolves around ensuring the general safety of the individual(s) involved. It can include advice related to bleeding control, airway management, coaching CPR or even helping deliver a baby.
OnStar subscriber Marvin Sponaugle recently used his emergency connection to report an elderly driver who had slowed to an idle speed and was unconscious, slumped over the wheel. Sponaugle stopped to help and began administering medical assistance per the OnStar Advisor’s instructions, which included clearing the man’s airway.
“I gave the [Advisor] my [cell phone] number and he called me back so I could get closer to the man in need,” said Sponaugle. “He gave me instructions to check if he was breathing and so should be in every vehicle because it could possibly help save more lives.”
OnStar Advisors who seek to be Emergency Advisors are extensively trained. This process includes holding an exemplary OnStar track record, weeks of internal OnStar Emergency courses and specialized training by the NAED.
Over the past 16 years, OnStar’s Emergency Advisors have responded to more than 1 million Emergency Service calls and have directed numerous first responders to crash and other emergency scenes. First Assist service expands OnStar’s portfolio of safety, security and connectivity services.