By Jennifer Geiger on April 17, 2013
OnStar's advisors have helped deliver babies, administer CPR instructions and dole out post-car-accident advice, all before medical help arrives. It turns out they know what they're talking about. GM's safety and communication service has been certified by the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch as a Medical Accredited Center of Excellence. It's the first non-emergency, private company to gain the status.
With the push of OnStar's First Assist system button, motorists in trouble have access to advisors who receive special training that includes weeks of emergency courses, CPR training and IAED certification. The company first started offering the service in 2010, and according to GM, it's used about 1,200 times every month. In OnStar's 17-year history, the agency reports it's responded to nearly 2 million emergency service calls.
"The fact that our emergency advisors are able to offer instructions that meet the rigorous standards set by the IAED is a testament to how seriously we take this responsibility to help our customers and how hard these advisors work," Terry Inch, chief operating officer of GM Global Connected Consumer, said in a statement.
But won't the call center operators at 911 offer similar medical guidance until help arrives? According to Stefan Cross of OnStar Global Communications, not always because not all 911 call centers are equipped to offer emergency services over the phone. He told Cars.com that only about half of all 911 call centers in the U.S. offer emergency medical services and less than 5% of those are actually accredited. Cross said it's a problem many rural areas face; many call centers are only able to comfort accident victims until help arrives.
"With OnStar's First Assist, now anyone with access to OnStar is ensured that no matter where they are, they have access to a trained, certified EMD advisor who can offer crucial medical guidance in situations that range from excessive bleeding to choking to a poisonous snake bite," Cross said.
OnStar's First Assist is included in both the basic and premium OnStar subscription packages at no additional cost; it's also available to OnStar For My Vehicle customers. Packages start at $18.95 per month or $199 per year.
Assistant Managing Editor Jennifer Geiger is a reviewer, car-seat technician and mom of three. She wears a lot of hats, many of them while driving a minivan. Email Jennifer