May 31, 201309:10 AMPoint of View

Ambulance of the Future

Ambulance of the Future

Airship Archangel

Courtesy Reindy Allendra

There’s lots of exciting design coming out of hospitals, like the one we wrote about this month, “Healing Machine." In fact, it looks like technological and practical revisions will soon make time spent in health-care situations more comfortable for nurses, doctors, visitors, and patients alike.

Similarly, those who are the first responders to medical situations—EMTs and police and fire department officers—are helping designers come up with more efficient and more useful designs for mobile health care, AKA ambulances.

The “ambulance of the future” is a complex challenge that can take a variety of forms. An emergency medical response vehicle can focus one or more issues currently problematic in ambulance design, including accessing remote locales, addressing medical issues on-site (instead of simply transporting a person to a hospital), or allowing EMTs to work more safely while the ambulance is in motion.

In Healthcare on the Move: The Smartpod Project (funded by the U.K.'s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and shown at the Royal College of Art (RCA)). designs for ambulances were focused around the idea that treating patients on scene, rather than rushing them to a hospital, will result in better outcomes. RCA designer Rob Thompson told BBC News, "Up to 50 percent of people who dial 999 in an emergency could be treated at home by a rare breed of paramedic, an Emergency Care Practitioner (ECP). They have been trained with the skills needed to treat and diagnose a patient on scene rather than run them to hospital."

The Shell Concept design from the RCA Smartpod project put vehicle speed in the backseat and instead looked at bringing services like x-rays, immunizations, and screenings to a modular ambulance with a shell that pulls out from the rear of the vehicle. For combat or rural emergency response, another proposal included a deployable tent, allowing 360-degree access to a patient (impossible in a typical ambulance set-up) while a fourth, with giant wheels, looked at an ambulance that could travel as fast off-road as on. 

Taking a different tack, the giant Airship Archangel could navigate into bombed-out conflict areas or those affected by natural disasters, bringing with it everything that could be needed on-board. Designed by Thomas Grimm, with design support from Reindy Allendra and technical support from Dr. Gregory Smedley, the ship brings with it the capability of a medical center. It can be tethered and run on local power, or provide its own with wind generated energy (and can even serve as a source of emergency power), it can fly in high wind speeds (up to 80 knots), and can include bringing cargo (food and clean water) as well as medical supplies to affected areas more quickly than using possibly destroyed roads or bridges.

While on-board medical systems that can help paramedics start treating patients are a boon, direct contact with specialist doctors can mean the difference between life or death. Lifebot Technology’s SuperAmbulance is outfitted with Hewlett-Packard computers, cameras and a special Slate tablet that allows direct communication between EMTs and emergency or trauma doctors at the hospital.

This telemedicine device combines GPS positioning, high-res imaging, patient history and medical record access and direct contact between doctor and patient, remotely.  A specialist physician can move the cameras in the vehicle as it speeds to the hospital, make specific recommendations to crew treating the patient, and even monitor vital signs.  At $50,000 it’s an expensive system, but is ideal for rural areas (where care could be 30 or 40 miles away or more), and is already in limited use in areas of Arizona, Florida, and Texas.

Starre Vartan is an author, journalist, and artist whose work concentrates on sustainability in consumer products, including a focus on vernacular, nature-based and eco design. Recognized as a green living expert, she is the publisher of Eco-chick.com, a columnist at MNN.com, and contributes to Inhabitat and The Huffington Post. She is Metropolis’s copyeditor.

May 31, 2013 10:56 am
 Posted by  RemyC

Interesting how high tech designers are trying to conceptualize the future of emergency transport, through the use of advanced electronics. But what is sadly missing from this picture is how advanced electronics could benefit medical care itself.

We have mapped the entire genome, and yet, there is no map of electromagnetic fields in the human body! Up until recently the work of researchers monitoring bioelectromagnetism in quest for greater understanding of how our metabolism functions has been ignored by conventional medicine.

We now know our entire being is activated and controlled by electromagnetic waves in a sea of radiant energy. Emotions are contagious, signals from one life form to another trigger EM responses which in turn trigger chemical reactions. A wonderful new book The Spark Of Life by Frances Ashcroft, professor of physiology at the University of Oxford, brings us up to speed on the new sciences,heralding a whole new window of possibilities towards Star Trek-type medical devices which can accelerate the healing of skin and bones, reprogram or delete defective genes, all done through the manipulation of electromagnetic radiation.

I know it's not the role of Metropolis to look into such things, but if we're going to discuss the future of medical vehicles, shall we also discuss what machines and equipment these vehicles will have on board for medics to use?

Add your comment:

About This Blog

Edit Module
Advertisement
Edit Module
Advertisement
Edit Module
Advertisement
Edit Module
Advertisement

Digital Edition

{$publication.name} - Digital Edition

METROPOLIS is now available on your tablet or mobile devices 

Learn more »