119 calls can now be video calls via the 5G network

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119 calls can now be video calls via the 5G network

5G could save your life.

While dialing 119 has traditionally connected people with emergency services by voice, a new KT offering will link the caller to a dispatcher by video using the new high-speed network.

The mobile carrier has teamed up with the National Fire Agency to make this futuristic dream a reality.

KT has been conducting tests on video 119 in select regions since October last year, and the service was switched on for general use starting Thursday.

With a video connection, rescue workers are able to observe the conditions of the patient and give specific directions to those able to assist until paramedics arrive. They can, for example, transmit a video on cardiopulmonary resuscitation and offer guidance on performing the potentially life-saving measures.

This service is carrier independent and can be also used by SK Telecom or LG U+ subscribers.

The National Fire Agency said it expects work efficiency to improve with the introduction of the service. The use of video calls for emergency treatment from January through October this year raised the rate of spontaneous circulation recovery of emergency patients by 18 percent on year, according to the agency. But the service also has its limits.

“Though we expect the service to help us better save people’s lives, it isn’t yet perfected,” stressed a spokesperson for the agency at a press event held in central Seoul on Thursday. “The quality of the video and the speed of converting to video need to be worked on.”

The agency offers KT a private 5G network, which is faster than the network available to the public. The agency uses hotspots to connect its desktops to the network. The actual quality of the video will depend on the network used by the callers. Interruptions in transmission are possible.

KT is also working with Yonsei University Health System’s Severance Hospital to link ambulances to 5G.

The service, which is only offered in limited areas, will connect rescue workers with medical professionals at hospitals. In the vehicle, rescue workers wearing artificial reality glasses will be able to communicate with doctors, who will then be able to see the conditions of the patient in real time. This enables the immediate treatment of the patient upon arrival.

“KT will contribute to making Korea a safer place through 5G technology,” said a spokesperson for KT. “KT will use its ICT, like 5G and artificial intelligence, to help improve the medical system to help emergency patients receive treatment within the golden hour.”

BY JIN MIN-JI [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr]

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