News : 'Unreliable' Mobile Phone Technology Leaves Injured Caller Stranded
Victoria, Australia, Oct 20, 2015 -- An injured woman was left in her crashed car for more than an hour on Monday night because emergency services could not find her.
The woman was slipping in and out of consciousness when she called triple zero for help.
She didn't know her exact location and ambulance officers were forced to search the area for her wrecked vehicle.
The incident comes just days after it was revealed emergency services were working with inadequate mobile phone-location technology.
The Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority warned on Sunday lives were at risk unless the technology was improved.
The woman's car ran off the Mountain Highway near the town of Sassafras, east of Melbourne, about 8.20pm on Monday.
Her car flipped and landed on its roof, resting against a tree about 20 metres from the road.
"It took more than an hour to find her," an Ambulance Victoria spokeswoman said.
"It was made more difficult because she wasn't fully conscious and her mobile phone ran out of battery before she could tell the operator where she was."
Once she was found, it took emergency crews another half an hour to free the woman from the wreckage.
She was treated at the scene before being flown with leg fractures to the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
ESTA chief operating manager Deborah Weiss said the incident highlighted the need for the federal government and national mobile carriers to improve phone-location technology.
The emergency call centre operator raised concerns about the program it uses to locate people calling triple zero from their mobile phone as recently as last week.
The program, known in the industry as Push MOLI (Mobile Origin Location Information), was not reliable enough and could compromise safety unless it was fixed, Ms Weiss said.
"It adds time to our calls, so definitely lives are at risk," she told Fairfax Media earlier this month.
"The community's expectations are very different now. They know where their pizza is from Dominos, they know where their car is from Uber, but when they ring triple zero, we don't know where they are."
At present, when ESTA receives a call from a mobile phone and MOLI provides the emergency operator with the caller's approximate location based on their proximity to a mobile tower.
However, unlike other international systems, the technology does not provide a precise address.
Unless the caller can tell ESTA exactly where they are, it can take valuable time to pinpoint a location during an emergency, when every second counts.
Insiders admit the matter is particularly concerning in the context of new figures showing that demand for ESTA's services continues to grow.
The agency's latest annual report shows ESTA answered 2.4 million calls last year, with almost 60 per cent coming from mobile phones.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Since 1 July 2008 emergency ambulance services in Victoria have been provided by a single provider known as Ambulance Victoria. It was formed from the three previous providers of emergency ambulance services: the Metropolitan Ambulance Service (MAS), Rural Ambulance Victoria (RAV), and the Alexandra District Ambulance Service (ADAS).
Published: Tuesday, October 20, 2015