Did you know that EMTs and paramedics in some cases still use paper maps, don’t know what the pick up location building looks like, and have a difficult time locating a patient in a large public building? These are the findings that surfaced after researching EMTs online and interviewing them in person. With a team of three other classmates, we conceptualized and designed an app to address these issues.

Our solution is Beacon, a response time optimization app for EMTs. Beacon leverages Google Earth and Google maps (outdoor and indoor) to minimize response time. We can achieve this by enabling the system to send the patient or caller a text with a link to pin their specific location inside a building. We also give EMTs three distinct views of the building for different situations and stages of the pick up process. The building view lets EMTs see the outside of the building, so they don’t waste time trying to read address numbers on buildings, and know where to park so they are at the closest entrance. The indoor map provides directions to the patient within the building, and shows the entrances, elevators, escalators, and stairs in the building. Finally, first person view helps EMTs in situations where there is low visibility, like smoke, crowds and power outages, to see landmarks in the building and where the patient is exactly.

A few of the notable features are voice commands, “Call Dispatcher” button, and the “Got the Patient” button on the indoor map screen. The voice commands allow the EMT to control the app when their hands are full, and will make non-tech savvy EMTs feel more comfortable using our app. Voice commands work well especially since we imagine that EMTs will use arm bands around their forearm to hold their phones. The “Call Dispatcher” button is a quick and easy way for EMTs to call if they run into an issue. The “Got the Patient” button appears on the indoor map screen when the EMT swipes through the directions or are within a certain distance of the patient. After tapping the button, the app queues the route to return to the hospital specified by the CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch).

We found that response time is very important to EMTs, as their job at the core, is to save lives, and “sometimes the difference between life and death is a matter of minutes.”


System Flow:

  1. Injured person calls 911.
  2. Dispatcher enters information into their existing CAD system (Computer Aided Dispatch).
  3. The EMT is notified of a pickup through the alarm in their building, and a text notification from the information our web service extracts from the CAD.
  4. EMT swipes notification, which starts the app and navigation to the patient inside the building.
  5. EMT can toggle between views.
  6. EMT taps the “Got the Patient” button when they are ready to head to the hospital.
  7. Return route to hospital is queued.



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