June 3, 2009 General Motors has announced a new capability for its OnStar service, which the car manufacturer hopes will reduce emergency response times and save lives. The new feature, called Injury Severity Prediction, analyzed real-time vehicle crash telemetry data to predict how severely the occupants may be injured. OnStar then alerts emergency personnel so that they can react more quickly and appropriately.

The troubled automaker’s OnStar service has included Automatic Crash Response (ACR) for the past five years. In the event of a crash, ACR transmits vehicle telemetry such as the vehicle’s GPS location, the crash’s severity, the direction of impact, the type of vehicle, and whether or not the vehicle’s airbags deployed.

The new Injury Severity Prediction (ISP) feature analyzes the crash “signature” and attempts to predict how seriously the passengers may be injured. Each crash is assigned a prediction of Normal or High, which helps EMS and first responders to determine the appropriate combination of emergency personnel, equipment and medical facilities needed.

"Seconds matter following severe trauma and accurate assessment of occupant injury severity by rescue personnel at the scene will allow them to properly prioritize the treatment and transport of crash occupants," says Dr Stewart C. Wang, Professor of Surgery at the University of Michigan Trauma Center. "Many crash occupants have neither external wounds nor significant symptoms at the scene despite life-threatening internal injuries. OnStar's Injury Severity Prediction will help rescuers to urgently identify and transport these occupants for needed medical treatment."

GM developed the ISP feature based on the recommendations from a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) panel on real-time crash data. The panel, made up of more than 20 emergency medical physicians, trauma surgeons, public safety experts and vehicle safety experts, was tasked with developing best practices for the use of data from OnStar's ACR vehicle telematics system and similar systems from other companies.

GM says OnStar will continue to work with the first responder communities to improve the use of automotive telemetry data to help speed up patient diagnosis and treatment in vehicle crashes. ISP is designed to be an additional tool in their triage decisions in addition to the existing crash data available from OnStar.

OnStar is a wholly-owned subsidiary of GM. However, OnStar is not a part of GM’s bankruptcy filing and subscribers should not be affected by the automaker’s recent financial troubles.

In operation for the past 13 years, OnStar has provided assistance in more than 100,000 Automatic Crash Responses and received more than 1 million emergency calls for help. GM has sold more than 7 million vehicles with OnStar ACR, and GM says the ISP capability will be available by early next year.

Alan Brandon

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