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OnStar Offers Automatic Crash Notification
Partnered with OnStar, technology will help save lives by getting the right emergency resources to crashes faster

When a vehicle crash occurs, a quick medical response often can mean the difference between life and death. In an effort to help 911 centers dispatch the appropriate life-saving staff and equipment to crash scenes faster, General Motors will begin adding an advanced automatic crash notification (AACN) system to vehicles equipped with OnStar, the first automaker to do so.

Currently, OnStar, an embedded in-vehicle safety and security communications system, is automatically notified within seconds when a subscriber’s air bag deploys. The next-generation GM automatic crash notification system linked with OnStar will assist even more customers by taking this potentially life-saving service beyond air bag deployments. Using a collection of strategically located sensors, the GM AACN system will automatically call for help if the vehicle is involved in a moderate to severe frontal, rear or side-impact crash, regardless of air bag deployment. Also, the new system provides crash severity information to OnStar call center advisors, who relay it to 911 dispatchers, helping them to quickly determine the appropriate combination of emergency personnel, equipment and medical facilities needed.

“With the new technology of this enhanced GM crash notification system, we have a tremendous opportunity to save more lives,” said Robert C. Lange, GM executive director of vehicle safety. “AACN will assist emergency personnel in determining crash severity in those precious minutes following a crash, and help get the right people to the scene faster.”

Dr. Rick Hunt, M.D., is president of the National Association of EMS Physicians and professor and chair of emergency medicine at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, N.Y. He recalls instructing EMS workers in the 1980s to take instant photos of crashed vehicles so that he could correlate possible patient injuries with the damage to the vehicle. “Until then, patients would be brought to the emergency department and we had no information on the crash at all. For $2 worth of film we got a huge amount of data.

”The wonder of AACN technology is that it will give us more crash information than ever before – a high-tech crash ‘photo’ – which helps us take better care of our patients. The National Association of EMS Physicians and I look forward to working with GM and OnStar as they lead in the introduction of this technology in the auto industry.”

The AACN system works by using new and existing sensors in conjunction with advanced intelligence to transmit key crash data including the direction of impact and the impact force. Impact force is one of the most important pieces of data used to determine the severity of a crash.

When the AACN system is triggered by a crash of sufficient severity, an emergency voice/data connection will be established with an OnStar call center. The advisor will use the voice channel in the vehicle to communicate with the crash victims and, at the same time, conference-in the nearest public service answering point (911 dispatcher) and provide specific data about the severity of the crash. The 911 dispatcher can then inform emergency responders of the data. In the future, AACN data may be transmitted electronically to the 911 centers, emergency responders, emergency departments and trauma centers using secured internet connections.

Eventually, the system may be capable of determining how many occupants are in the vehicle, whether they are using safety belts and other information that helps emergency responders further anticipate the types and severity of injuries that may have occurred in a crash.

The GM AACN system will be available beginning in 2003 on about 400,000 OnStar-equipped 2004 model year vehicles, including the Chevrolet Malibu, Chevrolet TrailBlazer, GMC Envoy and Envoy XUV, Oldsmobile Bravada and the Buick Rainier. AACN will be added to additional GM model lines equipped with OnStar in subsequent model years.

The system will be rolled out into vehicles sold in the U.S. and Canada.

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