NEXES Exercise with the Turkish Emergency Services

On March 17th 2017, AAHD organised a NEXES exercise involving forty-three representatives of eighteen organisations that are relevant stakeholders within the Turkish emergency service and members of the NEXES end-users community: the Izmir Ambulance Service, the Izmir Fire Department, the Izmir Police Department, the Izmir Metro, the Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics Association, the Izmir North Public Hospitals Union, the Aegean Young Businessmen Association, the Turkish Radio Amateurs Association, the Urla Training and Simulation Centre, the Dokuz Eylul University Distant Learning and Practice Centre, the Prevention of Communicable Diseases Association, the TUPRAS Izmir Refinery, the Paramedic School of the Izmir Economics University, the Izmir Provincial Health Directory, the Izmir Disaster and Emergency Management Directory, the Izmir Governor Crisis Centre, the Izmir 112 Single Number Directory and the Izmir Municipality IT Department. Each representative has extensive expertise and experience in the fields of emergency preparedness, response and recovery.

Intending to highlight the differences between the existing Turkish command control centre for emergencies and the new features proposed by NEXES, the Exercise considered two different NEXES Reference Scenarios, one involving a traffic collision and another exploiting a sudden medical incident, namely a cardiac arrest. The first scenario aimed to explore accessibility features, communication difficulties and location capabilities, whereas the second scenario focused on the PSAP operators’ situational awareness and the delivery of medical instructions prior to the arrival onsite of first responders. To best capture the involved participants’ attention and feedback, the exercise combined a table-top approach and a live simulation.

After the unfolding of the exercise, participants enthusiastically shared their views and opinions on the new capabilities brought by NEXES. From the emergency service professionals’ perspective, NEXES comprises valuable new communication channels for citizens to reach emergency services and provides added features that facilitates the PSAP operator to become fully aware of the whole emergency situation and decide on the adequate assets to dispatch. The Turkish representatives were very impressed with NEXES’s video ability, enabling scene management before the arrival of First Responders, significantly improving the timing of emergency management, namely in situations of mass casualty incidents. Similarly, PSAP operators were very interested in the possibility to receive the victim’s medical history and combine it with the data retrieved from personal health apps. Through the NEXES App, it was also recognised the benefits of providing instructions to the caller on how to proceed or act, even correcting inadequate interventions by bystanders, thus allowing first aid interventions to start earlier on scene. There was a general acknowledgment of the positive impact that NEXES might exert on the increase of survival rates.

As far as the concerns expressed by the Turkish emergency professionals, the highlight is placed on the need for additional resources to handle the new information sources. The NEXES’s reliance on smartphones and new Internet-based technologies also raises concern with respect to the population’s ability to own and use these technologies. To address these concerns, it was suggested that emergency services need to review emergency procedures to accommodate the new technologies and determine the need for additional human resources in the PSAP centre. It was also suggested that public authorities and emergency services develop a large communication campaign to raising citizen’s awareness to the NEXES App, explaining how citizens should use and benefit from the App, as part of the public training for emergencies.

Concerning specific new features on the NEXES App, the emergency responders believe to be relevant the enabling of the option to easily reverse the camera’s direction, the inclusion of an icon to indicate at all times the battery situation and the level of Internet connectivity and the pre-definition of the different languages supported by the App. NEXES’s ambition to empower emergency calls from laptops, tablets and computers is also highly praised, and it is suggested to also enable the NEXES App to run on smart televisions. The Turkish emergency services professionals have volunteered to test NEXES in a mass causality incident environment.

With respect to the observations made by the citizens participating in the NEXES exercise, they mostly underline the recognition of the benefits of the NEXES’s total conversation capabilities and the improved accessibility of deaf and blind citizens to emergency services. It is also stressed the NEXES’s relevant contribution to a faster response by first responder teams, while enabling the delivery of necessary instructions to bystanders. It was also agreed that the NEXES user interface was very simple, intuitive and easy to use, therefore highly suitable for the distress and panic felt in emergency situations.

The major concerns were focused on the NEXES’s ability to deliver improved location information in multi-floor buildings and the NEXES App disconnect button, with a single pressure terminating the App. Because this may prompt accidental disconnections, it is suggested to add a message clarifying if the user wants to discontinue the NEXES App with a Yes/No option. Other propositions refer to the possibility of PSAP operators retrieving automatically the phone’s location information. Specifically on the NEXES App, the participants recommended that an enter button is included in the message feature (reassuring the message has been sent), the possibility to enlarge the text font, the addition of information notes and instructive videos to be provided by emergency services to the caller (also contributing to enhance the public emergency training).

The feedback gathered from the NEXES Exercise with the Turkish Emergency Services is instrumental to continue the innovative development work in the project concerning the NEXES App for citizens and of the next generation PSAP systems.

Two videos presented below were produced by AAHD.

  • The video below demonstrates how NEXES can improve emergency response in case of a citizen suffering from speech impairment.

  • The video below demonstrates how NEXES can improve emergency response in case of a citizen suffering from a cardiac arrest.

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