Hems Hospital Finder

Hi, as you may have seen I recently had the pleasure of joining the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance in the role of Co-Pilot. One of my jobs during the usually very busy transit to a call out is to assist the doctor and paramedic in making decisions as to where we might be transporting a patient. This requires a good understanding of the hospitals nearest to where we are going, what services each of them offer and of course the air and road transit times for each.

I decided an iPhone App could probably, very quickly give this information. Also, as the navigation is all about fixed points, i.e. grid reference of the incident through to a hospital and not really anything to do with the devices current position then neither GPS nor data would be required. All the user has to do in the settings page is enter the forecast 1000′ wind (F214 UK Spot wind forecast chart) and the normal operating airspeed. This will allow calculation of predicted flight times and presentation of the hospitals, listed nearest first.

So with a quick bit of research and some revision of Pythagoras’ and trigonometry I was up and running. It became clear during the design that I wanted to keep it as simple as possible, not to try and perform the actual triage but instead to give quick and useful information thus allowing the clinical team to make well informed decisions.

The first iteration of the app concentrated on solving the mathematics and presenting flight times in ascending order. After a bit of testing it soon became apparent that more information would be useful, particularly the forecast road transit times for each hospital. Some more research and I found a way to make background requests to Apples’ Navigation System and to be given in return forecast road transit times between two points and hey presto a functioning, simple app was born.

I am not a professional developer and I offer no support for the app, however you are free to put it to use if it will be useful to you. The hospitals are taken from the SAS HLS Directory. The information with regard to the specialities that each hospital offers has been kindly provided by clinical professionals. If you notice any inaccuracies or think of an improvement please feel free to contact be at ian@millsassociates.com.

This is the very simple setting screen, simply input the current wind (I’m assuming 1000′ as that’s where we spend most of our time) and select your normal airspeed. You can update this anytime you wish from either the welcome screen or directly from the results screen.

Above we see the results screen after inputting a UK OS Grid Reference as typically received. The flight times are calculated almost instantaneously and are available irrespective of a data connection. If data is enabled then the app will reach out and get forecast road times for each of the ten closest hospitals. Above you can see the network symbol displayed where a result has not yet been received (Lister, Hinchingbrooke and Luton), this symbol will also be displayed if no data is available. During testing it took an average of 5 to 10 seconds for all of the ten road times to be returned.

The specialities of each hospital are displayed in the table but for quick reference you can if you wish select a particular speciality in the tabbed section at the bottom, this will highlight in the list any hospital with that speciality.

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