The problem with First Aid
Picture this: you are enjoying a coffee at your local café, and the man sitting at the table next to you suddenly becomes unconscious. What do you do? Panic, right? You’re not a medical professional, but now this man’s life depends on you. How do you save this man’s life?
People feel overwhelmed and are scared of doing something wrong. So they freeze and do nothing, simply waiting for the ambulance to finally arrive. But our brains start to die after 3-5 minutes when they are starved of oxygen. Whereas, the average response time of an ambulance is 8 minutes. In Germany, less than 50% of people performed CPR on casualties who weren’t breathing. Up to 10 000 lives could be saved each year if there were 10-20% more people who gave CPR before the ambulance arrived.
Aimie is a voice assistant who leads you through all of the critical steps when responding to a medical emergency. She uses Artificial Intelligence to ensure that the correct reactions are taken in every situation. She listens for you to tell her when you have moved on to the next step. If you can’t speak due to exertion or if Aimie doesn’t recognize your voice under stress, you may proceed through the steps manually.
Aimie is compatible with all electronic devices, but she is also able to connect to other people’s devices. The ambulance is alerted to your location and is able to find you right away. At the same time, Aimie tells you how long before the ambulance will arrive on scene. She records your reactions to allow for playback to help the doctors after the patient has been turned over to medical professionals.
There are 2 different kinds of modes: one for emergencies and one for training. The latter tests your knowledge of First Aid and allows you to improve your skills. You can practice scenarios and read up on First Aid and any legal implications associated with assisting someone in an emergency. It’s designed to decrease the likelihood of becoming a bystander when faced with a medical emergency and educate the user on what their legal boundaries are.
Two different modes
The inspiration for my thesis project came from a story I heard about a student who fell unconscious during gym class. His teacher called the ambulance, but otherwise performed no First Aid. As a result, today the student is 100% disabled. My immediate reaction was anger and an inclination to blame the teacher for their inaction, but I felt like a hypocrite doing so – my first and only First Aid course was years ago, and I didn’t feel confident about how I would handle that situation.
So I started to research the problem. I read a lot, created an online questionnaire, interviewed First Aid responders and medical experts. My assumptions got confirmed: the overwhelming answer was fear. This problem gnawed at me, and I wanted to solve it. And the important aha-moment was with one of the interviews in which the paramedic told me about over-the-phone first aid. Then I realized Aimie had to be a voice assistant. The user doesn’t have to watch or read any information, which allows to focus on the task. They just need to listen, and they can use both of their hands.