Screaming success for Ambulance service

Queensland Ambulance Service is enjoying runaway success with a Web-based, mission-critical application.

The experience should make it susceptible to Microsoft's .Net vision of corporate applications created by drag 'n' drop assembly of Web services delivered over the Internet from different Web sites.

But if the QAS is any guide, Microsoft has some speed bumps to negotiate -- before it convinces corporate Australia to buy into its .Net grand vision.

The ambulance service's application falls into a category that it has no intention of ever farming out to Web services providers.

It is a rostering system whose heart is an SQL database holding employees' personal details which QAS wants kept well within its corporate kimono, said Brisbane region IT manager Vince Brozak.

The database sits on a server in QAS' Brisbane headquarters and is connected by permanent links to a site operated by Web hosting company WebCentral.

Ambulance staff access live roster information by logging onto the Web site which was created to QAS specifications by Web developer DCG.

What gives the roster system its mission-critical status is the need to supply paramedic crews on a 24x7 basis.

Any changes to availability of personnel must be immediately known and factored in by management.

"The requirement is to rapidly and efficiently get rostering information out to the troops," Brozak said.

The Net-based roster achieves that by giving the 550 QAS Brisbane region employees anytime, anywhere access.

Before setting it up a year ago, QAS needed more roster staff and to keep pace with changes, "the phones and fax machines went nonstop", Brozak said.

These days, much of that message load is handled more efficiently and quietly by e-mail.

The convenience factor for ambulance officers is multiplied by the fact that 80 per cent of them have ISP accounts that give them access to the roster from home.

The end result is a system more convenient and flexible for staff and more cost effective and efficient for management, according to Brozak.

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