Technology employed following Christchurch earthquakes
As the city of Christchurch, New Zealand is being rebuilt after the earthquakes of recent years, St John ambulance service relies on Optima Predict, the leading-edge simulation based planning solution to help plan ambulance services and meet service targets under the most challenging circumstances.
St John Ambulance is the leading provider of ambulance services in New Zealand, serving over 90% of the population. It is a publically funded organisation, relying entirely on the Government and public support for its income. Transporting 400,000 people each year with 600 operational vehicles and 205 ambulance stations, St John must meet contractual targets for response times and service delivery whilst facing challenging geography, extreme remote and rural areas, a widely scattered population and the after-math of the devastating recent earthquakes in and around Christchurch.
Optima Predict was purchased by St John almost four years ago. Predict includes a highly accurate road network which allows for accurate modelling and simulation of travel times and routes to and from ambulance stations or posts. With the road network in Christchurch severely damaged by the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, as well as several ambulance stations damaged beyond repair, being able to quickly and accurately model these changes and simulate the current situation using Optima Predict has proved invaluable in continuing to provide care to the people of the region.
Craig Bartlett, Performance Manager at St John said, “As well as coping with the immediate catastrophic effects of the earthquakes, we also have to maintain patient care while the rebuilding process is underway. With congestion and disruption on the roads, we must decide optimum locations for the siting of vehicles in the absence of facilities. Optima Predict has given us the information which has allowed us to make informed decisions every step of the way.”
With three out of Christchurch’s six ambulance stations left damaged or unusable after the earthquakes, the challenge for St John was to work out where replacement facilities would best be sited. Using Optima Predict to simulate any ‘what if?’ scenario, the optimum locations for rebuilding these stations has been found.
Craig Bartlett added, “Historically, our ambulances have all sat at ambulance stations waiting for calls, but Optima Predict has shown us that particularly with all the road repairs and an ever-changing city landscape, this is not necessarily the most effective model. We are now looking at a more dynamic model which delivers improved care for our patients.”
Re-building Christchurch is a slow process and one which has been compounded by problems with the underlying land. Whilst buildings in places remain seemingly undamaged, changes to the land below them mean that they are not safe. Throughout the city and suburbs, the location of housing development is being dictated by the quality of the land and it is therefore difficult to know which areas will end up being developed. Future forecasting of the ambulance services is therefore a challenge and the situation is being carefully reported and monitored by St John. Optima Predict is used to plot and visualise any reported changes to ensure that St John’s overall plan is kept on target.
“Optima Predict has allowed us to plan centrally what is happening on a local basis and to maintain consistency throughout the country.” explained Craig Bartlett. “Without Predict, we would have to rely on local people in each region using their local intelligence.”
By using Optima Predict, St John is able to make informed and intelligent decisions in an environment which continues to change and evolve. With the two islands of New Zealand resting on a still very active fault system, it is imperative that the ambulance service has the very best tools in place to allow them to respond to any emergency and continue to improve services to the public in the future.