Ambulance dispatch prioritisation for traffic crashes using machine learning: A natural language approach

Ellen Ceklic, Stephen Ball, Judith Finn, Elizabeth Brown, Deon Brink, Paul Bailey, Austin Whiteside, Rudolph Brits, Hideo Tohira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: Demand for emergency ambulances is increasing, therefore it is important that ambulance dispatch is prioritised appropriately. This means accurately identifying which incidents require a lights and sirens (L&S) response and those that do not. For traffic crashes, it can be difficult to identify the needs of patients based on bystander reports during the emergency phone call; as traffic crashes are complex events, often with multiple patients at the same crash with varying medical needs. This study aims to determine how well the text sent to paramedics en-route to the traffic crash scene by the emergency medical dispatcher (EMD), in combination with dispatch codes, can predict the need for a L&S ambulance response to traffic crashes. Methods: A retrospective cohort study was conducted using data from 2014 to 2016 traffic crashes attended by emergency ambulances in Perth, Western Australia. Machine learning algorithms were used to predict the need for a L&S response or not. The features were the Medical Priority Dispatch System (MPDS) determinant codes and EMD text. EMD text was converted for computation using natural language processing (Bag of Words approach). Machine learning algorithms were used to predict the need for a L&S response, defined as where one or more patients (a) died before hospital admission, (b) received L&S transport to hospital, or (c) had one or more high-acuity indicators (based on an a priori list of medications, interventions or observations. Results: There were 11,971 traffic crashes attended by ambulances during the study period, of which 22.3 % were retrospectively determined to have required a L&S response. The model with the highest accuracy was using an Ensemble machine learning algorithm with a score of 0.980 (95 % CI 0.976–0.984). This model predicted the need for an L&S response using both MPDS determinant codes and EMD text. Discussion: We found that a combination of EMD text and MPDS determinate codes can predict which traffic crashes do and do not require a lights and sirens ambulance response to the scene with a high degree of accuracy. Emergency medical services could deploy machine learning algorithms to improve the accuracy of dispatch to traffic crashes, which has the potential to result in improved system efficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104886
JournalInternational Journal of Medical Informatics
Volume168
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Ambulance dispatch prioritisation for traffic crashes using machine learning: A natural language approach'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this