A tailored navigation system for first responders.
A navigation and reporting system for firefighters and paramedics.
Current protocols for firefighters and paramedics for both everyday emergencies and disasters involve heavy use of radio and pagers. Firefighters and paramedics that we interviewed at Seattle Fire Station expressed frustration with these technologies and resulting procedures, for they take time and attention away from being able to help those on-scene. We sought to use emerging technologies to meet this challenge.
Course Project for MHCID
10 weeks, 2017
How might we enable first responders to respond to crises more effectively and efficiently?
Secondary Research Findings:
Literature review shows that response time needs to be improved:
People have about 3 to 4 minutes to escape from a burning house, and 4 to 6 minutes to receive medical attention after a heart attack before serious risk of brain damage. However, the national average emergency response time is 15 minutes and 19 seconds.
Primary Research Findings
Interviews with Firefighters and Paramedics
Process of Responding to 911 Calls:
Pain Points in this Process:
1. Current communication channel (radio and pager) is not effective enough.
There are many radio channels for various purposes - dispatcher sending tasks, paramedics communicating with hospitals, communication between firefighters and stations, etc. It is not uncommon that something updated on one channel is missed, simply because the first responder is busy on another channel. There is no platform to display information that needs to be shared across all stations.
“It’s 2017. Why can’t we use like FaceTime or something and just say, ‘here, that’s what the body looks like’?”
- Crystal, Paramedic
Our AVL (Automatic Vehicle Location) is set up so they can tell us a message that they can’t tell over radio because it’s over crowded or something.”
- Will, Firefighter
A paramedic showing us her radio and pager.
We listened in on a call over the radio channel and it was a muffled paramedic’s voice describing the injury to a doctor so he could prep before the patient came in.
2. Fire stations are unprepared for when radio towers go down.
“I guess we’d go report back in person. We have satellite phones and they’re supposed to get tested once every year, but no one’s been trained on ‘em.”
- Daryll, Firefighter
3. The navigation system is not tailored for features of fire trucks.
“We have this navigation system, but it was made for a little Honda, not our trucks... [there are] bridges that are too low, or narrow streets that we can't go under”
“I’ve been here 22 years, so I know these streets. But if we get called out to West Seattle, then we’re gonna be using the system. And sometimes it’ll tell us to be making these turns that our truck can’t do.”
- Daryll, Firefighter
A paramedic showing us the embedded navigation system.
This is a navigation system embedded in both fire engines and ambulances. It allows first responders to view routes, check dispatched calls, see locations of other units, and toggle between working status.
4. More information about the destination is wanted.
"Sometimes [the dispatchers] are too busy to tell us the details… but there are so many things that have to be taken into account, like what is the house like, the building material, the closest hydrants, the hose connections… we don’t have a big picture about what’s happening."
- Dalen, Firefighter
Paper Prototype Testing
Interaction Flow & Wire Frames
Interaction Flow for Navigation (click to view full image)
Interaction Flow for Reporting (click to view full image)
Hero Flows & Annotations
Hero Flow - Navigating to a scene:
Captain Davis has been at Fire Station for 22 years. He knows the streets of his unit’s block like the back of his hand. However, he still relies on Navi because it can inform him about real time road conditions, things he cannot know even with all of his knowledge.
Captain Davis is with the driver engineer, Joe. They are driving back to the station from a previous call in Greenwood. The unit receives an emergency call from dispatch requesting backup at a gas explosion at a hotel. Captain Davis uses Navi to help Joe get information about both the scene and their upcoming route.
Hero Flow - Reporting A Condition:
While moving up to fill in at Station 4, Captain Greene notices that a section of N Stone Way is flooding and police have started to blockade the area.
He radios to dispatch to make sure they are aware of the situation. He knows, however, that other fire companies and paramedic trucks might not be aware since they are not directly involved in the situation, but the roadblock could hinder them later on. He takes out the tablet and makes a quick report on Navi.
Feedback & Next Steps
First Responders' feedback to our design:
We visited Seattle Fire Station 17 again after completing our high-fidelity prototype. Firefighters loved our design, and also gave us some suggestions on what to include for future steps.
1. Include weather, wind speed, and direction, so they can speculate how to avoid hazardous particles.
2. Show potential traffic conflicts between fire engines.
3. Being able to toggle to view only engines that are at certain working statuses.
4. Develop VR training for coping with different building structures.
5. Develop gloves that work easily with tablets.