Project: EMS 01 — Expanding Ecological Interface Design to Support Emergency Ambulance Dispatching Work Domains

Partner: NSERC, OGS
Dates: April 2001 - December 2004
Participants: Vicente, K. J., Chow, R.
Description: While previous research has tended to apply the principles of Ecological Interface Design (EID) to create revolutionary interfaces in primarily physical work domains, this research applies EID principles to create evolutionary interfaces in the primarily social work domain of emergency medical services (EMS) dispatching. In EMS dispatching, even state-of-the-art interfaces can be described as “single-sensor-single indicator”, and most of the information shown to dispatchers in conventional interfaces are neither abstracted (i.e., translated from physical descriptions to functional descriptions) nor aggregated (i.e., translated from per-unit descriptions to system-wide descriptions). We have designed new interfaces that are intended to enhance, rather than replace, current interfaces by providing additional information such as: response times to individual emergency calls (which serve as heuristic measures of each patient’s probability of survival), response times aggregated across emergency calls, coverage of priority posting areas, resource availability, resource allocation, and resource utilization over time. An experiment involving current, experienced emergency ambulance dispatchers was conducted to compare the new interface (used in conjunction with the conventional interface) against the conventional interface (used in isolation). While the new interface was not shown to improve performance directly, it received favourable subjective ratings from the dispatchers. Specifically, most displays within the new interface were rated by most dispatchers as having helpful content and logical structure; all displays within the new interface were rated by all dispatchers as having intuitive visual form; and most dispatchers preferred to have the new interface. As part of this project, a first-of-its-kind simulator was developed to support the interface evaluation. A version of this simulator was acquired by EMS to support their training activities.

View PDF Chow, R., & Vicente, K. J., "A field study of emergency ambulance dispatching: Implications for decision support," Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 46th Annual Meeting, pp. 313-317, 2002.

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