MEBAA Convention News

Tempus in-flight medical kit upgrade with video capability

 - November 10, 2008, 9:51 AM

RDT (Stand No. 542) has introduced the new Tempus IC version of its in-flight medical emergency response system. The new model is significantly lighter and more compact than the original Tempus 2000 system and offers new communications tools that allow for new functions such as streaming live video of patients to doctors on the ground.

The Tempus IC (integrated communications) never needs to be recalibrated unlike the Tempus 2000, which required recalibration by the manufacturer every 15 to 18 months. The new unit weighs about five pounds, approximately one quarter the weight of the original system. The equipment is waterproof and is more robust than the 2000, which makes it easier for operators to remove it from the aircraft so it can be used in other locations. RDT intends to add the capability for the Tempus IC to connect to the Internet via wireless hotspots on the ground.

According to RDT chief executive Graham Murphy, the improvements introduced with Tempus IC are the result of customer feedback. The UK-based company has trained around 5,000 air crew to use Tempus. The system was designed to be operated by people having no previous experience, offering clear visual and audio instructions to guide users through each process. The functions are displayed on and operated via a daylight-readable touchscreen.

RDT performed successful trials with 10 volunteer air crewmembers comprised of a mix of nationalities and age groups. All were able to take the full set of medical parameters and relay them back to a ground station, such as the MedLink emergency medical center in Phoenix.

All the equipment and instructions are color-coded to be as intuitive as possible. When the medical examination is complete, the system guides the users to repack the equipment and prompts them to check whether consumable items–for example, thermometer covers–need to be reordered.

Input from doctors led to the addition of a glucometry function to allow them to be able to exclude diabetic coma as a possible cause for a medical emergency. The other medical tests that Tempus IC can perform include blood pressure and pulse oximetry, temperature, capnography (respiration rate) and a 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG). Physicians also requested the moving video to provide additional visual clues to help them decide whether a patients’ condition is serious enough to require that a flight be diverted so they can receive treatment on the ground.

Tempus IC is compatible with both new high-bandwidth in-flight communications systems and older aircraft with lower-bandwidth capability. Even the video streaming function will work with lower bandwidths.

The unit’s built-in camera with real-time video capture and transmission uses the latest H624 video compression technology to push moving video over slower connections. The other communications options for the equipment include Bluetooth, GPS, Wi-Fi, Triband GSM, as well as wired Ethernet and legacy satellite phone systems. It also has a USB port to provide another way of sharing data.

The Tempus IC also boasts improved battery life of up to six hours and can be run on any mains electrical power source. Given that utilization rates for business aircraft users will typically be very infrequent, the battery selected will retain almost full performance even if it is not used more than once a year.

The headset through which air crew communicate with medics on the ground is a completely hands-free Bluetooth unit. It automatically recharges its battery when docked in the Tempus IC case.

The equipment also features a new thermometer and glucometer developed by RDT to send readings via Bluetooth. The ECG equipment is now separate from the main unit to make it easier to handle and repack.

Emirates Airlines has committed to taking the new Tempus IC units for its new fleet and will be replacing its existing Tempus 2000 equipment. The first of the new units were shipped in September.

RDT has its own global network operations center in London, which serves as an automatic switching center to route the data or voice signals to where they need to go via the most suitable available channel.