The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is developing a multinational telemedicine system for disaster response with the aim to improve access to health services and increase survival rates in emergency situations.
The technology was successfully live tested during a field exercise in Lviv, Ukraine in September 2015. Co-organized by the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC) and the State Emergency Service (SES) of Ukraine, the field exercise involved 1,100 rescue workers from 34 countries. It was the first time that independent national telemedicine systems interacted to provide medical support in a disaster scenario, officials said.
Once developed, the multinational telemedicine system will have a dual-use for both civilian and military application, including crisis situations. Portable medical kits allow first responders to connect to the system to receive advice from medical specialists in case of an emergency, even in remote areas. Through the use of modern communications technologies, an international network of medical specialists will be able to assess the patient, determine the diagnosis and provide real-time recommendations, according to NATO officials.
Supported by the NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) telemedicine project, this cooperation between allied countries Romania, the U.S., as well as NATO partners Finland, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, will also provide advanced equipment and training for users of the system.
“The telemedicine project has high-level political backing and involves an incredible pool of scientists and experts. It aims to save lives in emergency situations as well as in military operations,” Ambassador Sorin Ducaru, Assistant Secretary General of the NATO Emerging Security Challenges Division, said in a statement. “Today, NATO prioritizes ensuring greater security for fewer resources through increased cooperation and efficiency.”