Traffic light intersections cause the biggest challenges for Queensland Ambulance Service paramedics when racing to the scene of an emergency, or when transferring critically ill patients to hospital.
The dreaded red light at a traffic intersection causes ambulance drivers to slow down and approach with caution. Despite flicking on the flashing lights and sirens to edge the ambulance through the traffic gauntlet wastes valuable time – time that could make the difference between life and death for a patient.
Realising this is an increasingly difficult situation for paramedics to deal with, the Queensland State Government has approved a new high-tech device that allows for red traffic lights to be changed to green when ambulances and fire engines approach. This forward-thinking technology called Emergency Vehicle Priority technology (EVT) triggers intersection traffic lights far enough away to allow existing traffic to clear the intersection.
The device which is fitted to the ambulance electronics system has been developed by Transmax, who have partnered with Queensland Government to develop the Emergency Vehicle Priority (EVP) solution. EVP technology is an intuitive ITS solution that automatically interrupts normal traffic signal operations, providing a green traffic light signal to emergency response vehicles well in advance before arriving at an intersection.
EVP uses computer-aided dispatch, GPS and traffic management technology to determine the location of an emergency vehicle, calculate estimated times of arrival at intersections and sends a message to the traffic control system that an emergency vehicle is heading towards. The traffic control system provides a green light in advance of the arrival of the vehicle when it is safe to do so.
This excellent video of how the Transmax Emergency Vehicle Priority (EVP) solution will be used by Queensland Ambulance Service paramedics.
First trials of the new technology will be fitted to 11 sets of traffic light in Bundaberg in December, with plans to roll it out to other cities in Queensland dependent on the success of the program.
Initial testing of EVP has realised significant improvements in ambulance travel and response time of between 10-18% along major road routes, compared to the same period last year.
Main Roads Minister Warren Pitt said motorists should follow traffic signals as normal, but be aware they may change to a special phase.
As more and more younger paramedics are graduating from paramedical colleges and universities, greater focus is being placed on traffic awareness and advanced driver training skills than ever before.