CWI starts research on efficiency ambulance services

Publication date: 15-11-2011

In life threatening emergency situations, the ability of an ambulance service provider to arrive at the site within a few minutes is crucial. The Centrum Wiskunde Informatica (CWI) in Amsterdam starts a new research project to improve the quality and effectiveness of ambulance services by developing new planning methods. In the project CWI collaborates with TU Delft and several ambulance service providers including RAV Amsterdam, RAV Gooi & Vechtstreek, RAV Utrecht, GGD Flevoland, Connexxion, CityGIS and RIVM.

Uncertain process
More than one million times per year *, ambulances are called to attend incidents in the Netherlands. For life-threatening emergency transportation, it is required that in 95% of the cases an ambulance should be on the site within 15 minutes. To realize such short arrival times, an efficient planning of ambulance services is crucial. The high degree of uncertainty that is inherent to the planning of ambulances, makes the process very complex. Existing planning methods hardly take uncertain factors into account, leading to inefficiency and high costs.

Dynamic ambulance management
Achieving dynamic ambulance management is a major policy of  the national ambulance care sector community (AmbulanceZorg Nederland). The new scalable scheduling method of CWI takes explicitely account of uncertainty and changes in environmental factors. Based on efficient dynamic relocation strategies, the method of CWI provides an optimal coverage of the region at any time. The new system provides information about suitable locations, the distribution of ambulances, ambulance teams needed (ambulance vehicles, drivers, medical staff) and flexible staff rosters. The new system enables control room operators and staff planners  to improve the operational process significantly.

Ambulance Care Act
In the near future, the new Ambulance Care Act (Wet Ambulancezorg) comes into force. Because of this new legislation the quality of ambulance services will be benchmarked and licensing will only be awarded to providers of ambulance services that deliver high-quality service in a cost-effective manner. This requires new methods and tools to improve the operational process.

The results of the research can also be applied by other emergency providers such as fire, police and roadside assistance. Research into social logistics an important theme at CWI. This research is a good example.

* Source: ‘Ambulances in-zicht’, figure 2010: 1.061.268

The research is funded by a project grant from Technology Foundation STW,

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