Advanced Automatic Collision Notification: AACN system may help decrease mortality following an accident by alerting EMS providers earlier

Technical advances in vehicle telemetry is helping emergency medical responders determine the severity of a crash and injuries before they leave the fire station.

Advanced Automatic Crash Notification (AACN), also known as vehicle telemetry, uses real-time data to help save lives and reduce disabilities by improving the triage, transport, and treatment of crash victims.

Based on accident statistics, there’s plenty room for improvement. In 2016, 37,461 people died in auto crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2016).

Researchers believe AACN can make a difference. A study published last year looked at AACN’s potential benefits and explored EMS response times and other factors that have an impact on crash fatalities.

“The AACN system may help decrease mortality following an accident by alerting EMS providers earlier and helping them discern when specialized equipment will be necessary and quickly transfer patients to an appropriate hospital or trauma center,” according to the study (Plevin, Kaufman, Fraade-Blanar, & Bulger, 2017). In addition, the study noted that rural collisions with crash-notification times greater than 30 minutes were more likely to be fatal than collisions with similar crash-notification times occurring in urban environments.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also recognized the life-saving potential of vehicle telemetry. Its field triage panel has said that AACN “might have an important role in the triage of injured patients as the crash technology, data transmission, and telemetry availability continue to expand.” (Guidelines for Field Triage of Injured Patients: Recommendations of the National Expert Panel on Field Triage, 2011).

How It Works

Depending on the multiple sensors in the AACN system, the crash data could include information about the severity, direction of impact, air bag deployment, multiple impacts, and rollovers.

The sensors provide useful information that’s relayed to emergency dispatchers, so responders can arrive quickly with the right emergency personnel and equipment and be prepared for transport to trauma-level medical facilities (Advanced Automatic Crash Notification & Vehicular Emergency Data Set, n.d.). “Beyond basic notification of air bag deployment and GPS satellite-based location of the vehicle, AACN entails the aggregation of in-vehicle crash sensor data to better inform emergency responders prior to their arrival at the accident scene as to the potential severity of the crash and the likelihood of severe injuries to the vehicle’s occupants.”

To succeed, the system must integrate with the auto industry, the 911 system and emergency medical services.

Roughly a decade ago, the CDC partnered with OnStar and the GM Foundation to create guidelines for the emergency medical community’s use of this data, which can determine that the crash was moderate or severe, that it was a front, rear, or side-impact crash, or involved a rollover (“OnStar, CDC Join Forces on Crash Response,” 2007).

Most importantly, the new protocols would help EMS make an early decision about whether to send a crash victim to a Level I trauma center, which provides the highest level of trauma care.

“It will save lives and dollars in making sure that the right people get to the right institutions with the right care,” said Charles Stokes, then president and chief executive of the CDC Foundation, adding that the approach could “change the face of emergency medicine over time.” (OnStar, 2007).

The collaboration was developed through a $250,000 grant from the General Motors Foundation.

Several companies offer AACN systems for vehicles:

  • OnStar, a subsidiary of General Motors, provides subscription-based security and emergency services that use a trained advisor to notify emergency medical dispatch.
  • The Ford Syncsystem uses 911 Assist to notify local emergency operators of a serious accident with an air bag deployment.
  • Toyota and Lexus offer Safety Connect to signal for help if an airbag deploys or a collision is detected. Occupants may also push the SOS button to reach rescue services.
  • BMW Assistoffers a similar vehicle telemetry system.
  • Mercedes-Benzmbrace also has emergency call capabilities.

Have you had experience responding to accidents with an AACN system?



National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (2016). Retrieved from

Plevin, R., Kaufman, R., Fraade-Blanar, L., Bulger, E.  (Jan. 31, 2017). Evaluating the Potential Benefits of Advanced Automatic Crash Notification. Retrieved from

Guidelines for Field Triage of Injured Patients: Recommendations of the National Expert Panel on Field Triage (2011). Retrieved from

Advanced Automatic Crash Notification (AACN) & Vehicular Emergency Data Set (VEDS) (n.d.). Retrieved from

OnStar, CDC Join Forces on Crash Response (2007). Retrieved from


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