Local EMS services across the U.S. were significantly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Using Matterport technology, Austin-Travis County EMS created digital twins of their spaces to interact and engage with the community, which proved crucial once in-person offerings were halted.
We spoke with Captain Darren Noak, a deputy public information officer of Austin-Travis County EMS, to learn how his department has used 3D virtual experiences to teach the local community about their EMS systems, capabilities, and injury prevention.
Q: How has COVID-19 impacted you?
Being a 911 ambulance provider for all of Austin and Travis County, we were hit quite hard by the pandemic. Initially, our call volume was nearly non-existent, but then there was a spike where it seemed as if every call our medics ran was COVID-19 related. There were long hours, grueling shifts where we were constantly donning and doffing protective equipment and conducting endless decontamination. After many months of what seemed like only COVID-19 cases, we began to see our call volume, as well as the call types, return to near-normal levels. It’s been a long road for all of our medics.
Q: What inspired the 3D capture of this space?
This space was captured pre-pandemic to provide both an inside look into “our world,” as well as to give a better understanding of the equipment and capabilities of our EMS system to the community.
Q: What are the “must-sees” you want visitors to explore and why?
One would have to be our motorcycles. Austin-Travis County EMS is only one of a few EMS systems that utilize a Motor Medic Program in the United States. Our Motor Medic program has been around since the 2009 Austin Marathon and continues to be utilized for the many special events that we see in and around Austin.
Next would have to be the AmBus. The AmBus is a combination ambulance and bus! It’s primarily utilized for multi-patient, mass casualty incidents. Our AmBus has mainly been used during hurricane evacuations and repopulations along the Texas Gulf Coast. But, we have also used it for other severe weather events, explosions, firefighter rehab in extreme environments, and a mobile clinic. Of course, you don’t want to miss the tried and true “star of the show”, our state-of-the-art ambulance!
Q: What’s the one thing you want visitors to take away after exploring your 3D tour?
That they have a dedicated, professional, well-equipped, and state-of-the-art EMS system staffed by dedicated professionals.
Q: How can visitors utilize these scans?
This digital space was very useful for our Community Relations and Injury Prevention services. During the pandemic, all of our presentations to classrooms, civic organizations, businesses, and community events came to a screeching halt. By having these scans we were able to provide station “visits” virtually to students, Girl and Boy Scouts, and others just like our in-person events previously offered.
We have also utilized Matterport for our Elderly Fall Prevention program, as well as highlighting our mobile classroom used for teaching about child passenger safety seats and boosters. We feel that the possibilities are endless for us.
Thank you Matterport for allowing us to “think outside the box” of what your product would normally be utilized for.