General Motors Corp.'s OnStar service is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help emergency responders more effectively treat crash victims.
On Wednesday, the automaker was scheduled to announce a partnership with federal health officials to create guidelines, expected in 2008, for the use of real-time crash data to help emergency services provide a more targeted response to those injured in a car accident.
GM's OnStar system alerts emergency rescue officials when an air bag deploys or the vehicle is struck in a moderate to severe crash. Subscribers can also receive driving directions, roadside assistance and other services.
Emergency responders could benefit from the OnStar system because its sensors transmit real-time data pinpointing where a vehicle was struck, whether it rolled over or if it was hit several times.
That type of precision can help emergency officials make the "absolutely critical decision" of whether to send a crash victim to a Level I trauma center, which provides the highest level of trauma care, said Dr. Richard Hunt, who leads the CDC's division of injury response at the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
"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, the president and chief executive of the CDC Foundation, adding that the approach could "change the face of emergency medicine over time."
The collaboration was developed through a $250,000 grant from the General Motors Foundation, the company said. The CDC will review real-time crash data from OnStar to help improve emergency transportation and the treatment of crash victims.
Onstar, a subsidiary of GM, is standard on about two-thirds of 2007 model year GM vehicles and will be included on most 2008 vehicles. As an option, it costs $695, which includes the hardware and first year's subscription fee.
After the first year, the subscription price is $16.95 a month or $199 annually. OnStar officials say the retention rate for their service is more than 60 percent.