“It’s just amazing. We’re able to coach employees on the road… We have seen many instances where the camera alerts the driver to distracted driving or tailgating, and they're able to avoid an accident.”
Robert Ackerman, Safety Director at SeniorCare EMS
SeniorCare EMS is the largest commercial ambulance provider in New York City, with more than 200 vehicles and 1,300 employees. In search of a reliable GPS tracking solution for their fleet, they found that Samsara’s all-in-one platform could help them consolidate three separate vendors for GPS tracking, wireless data, and dash cams. Now, they rely on the power of Samsara’s advanced artificial intelligence (AI) to proactively prevent risky driving behavior, real-time GPS to know exactly where their vehicles are at all times, and robust engine diagnostics to minimize unexpected downtime.
Unified platform for telematics and safety allowed them to consolidate three separate vendors into one complete solution.
AI dash cams proactively prevent accidents before they happen by detecting risky driving behavior and providing optional in-cab audio alerts to drivers.
Easy API integration seamlessly feeds real-time GPS data to their third-party dispatch software.
Trip histories and live ETAs help them prove on-time performance, resolve inquiries, and ensure client satisfaction.
Real-time diagnostics and alerts reduce unexpected downtime, keeping their vehicles up and running and ready for an emergency.
Meet SeniorCare EMS
SeniorCare EMS began operating in April 2005 with just a handful of employees and three ambulances. Since then, they have grown to more than 1,300 employees and 200 vehicles, making them the largest commercial ambulance provider in New York City. From 911 calls to hospital discharges, SeniorCare EMS provides hundreds of emergency and non-emergency medical transports every day.
15 years after their founding, SeniorCare EMS recently faced an unprecedented challenge: COVID-19. Because they are headquartered in the Bronx and cover the entire downstate region of New York—including New York City, Nassau, Westchester, and parts of Suffolk—they have transported COVID-19 patients in some of the hardest-hit areas in the country.
“It’s been very challenging,” said Safety Director Robert Ackerman. “During the peak, our call volume was through the roof.”
Due to the emergency nature of their business, having real-time visibility into the location of their vehicles and safety of their drivers is critical for SeniorCare EMS. Before Samsara, they had a dash cam system—but the cameras couldn’t remotely upload any footage, which made it nearly impossible to proactively monitor and improve driver safety.
“With a fleet our size, it was difficult,” said Ackerman. “We had to actually pull the SD card and have two and a half full-time employees just reviewing video. So we missed a lot, because we didn’t get any alerts pushed to us.”
In addition to their camera system, SeniorCare EMS had a separate vendor for GPS tracking, and a third vendor for wireless data. When they switched over from Toughbooks to iPads earlier this year, their CFO asked Ackerman to find a single solution that could provide real-time GPS tracking and wireless data for a lower cost than what they were paying combined. With Samsara, they found they could consolidate not just two vendors, but three, since Samsara offers dash cams as well.
“Once we saw what it could do on the safety features side, our CFO was really bought into it,” said Ackerman. “All the features together put Samsara over the top—with the vehicle tracking, the cameras, and especially the distracted driving feature.”
“All the features together put Samsara over the top—with the vehicle tracking, the cameras, and especially the distracted driving feature.”
Reducing risky driving behavior with AI dash cams
Because SeniorCare EMS’ drivers are first and foremost EMTs and healthcare professionals, they are not primarily trained as drivers. For Ackerman and his safety team, a huge focus is decreasing risky behavior like distracted driving, speeding, and tailgating.
“We’re not a professional truck driving company. Since we’re in New York City, our vehicles are the only vehicles that many of our employees are driving,” said Ackerman. “Something that is a real challenge for us—especially with younger drivers driving with lights and sirens on—is risky driving behavior.”
That’s why SeniorCare EMS chose Samsara’s dual-facing AI dash cams, which use advanced AI to analyze the road and cab for high-risk behaviors and offer in-cab alerts for distracted driving and tailgating.
“It’s just amazing. We’re able to coach employees on the road,” said Ackerman. “We have seen many instances where the camera alerts the driver to distracted driving or tailgating, and they're able to avoid an accident.”
Because they have so many employees, another important feature for SeniorCare EMS is Camera ID, which allows the dash cam to automatically identify who’s driving. Ackerman has been particularly impressed with the accuracy of Camera ID during COVID-19, since all of their drivers have been wearing face masks.
“It looks at more points on the face than just your mouth and nose, so it’s actually been pretty good at tagging people with masks on,” said Ackerman.
Since all incident footage is auto-uploaded to their Samsara dashboard (and automatically tagged by driver and event type), Ackerman can use his Safety Inbox to identify problem areas and further coach drivers. After just a few months with Samsara, Ackerman said he has seen some employees completely stop using their phone while driving.
“I think it’s had a huge impact,” said Ackerman. “They’re definitely driving a lot better. And anecdotally, my safety team has said they’re seeing safety events come down a lot.”
In addition to preventing costly accidents, Ackerman said the dash cams have helped deliver ROI for SeniorCare EMS in another way: exoneration from false claims.
“We’ve had some rear-end collisions where the other party says, ‘You reversed into us.’ I just got one from the insurance company today,” said Ackerman. “It’s no problem. I simply go to Samsara. There’s the video. Gone. Exonerated.”
Integrating seamlessly with their third-party software via API
Like most ambulance companies, SeniorCare EMS relies on data from dozens of different sources for their day-to-day operations—including incoming emergency calls, patient health insurance records, ambulance availability status, and more. At the heart of their operations is a software called Vanguard EMS Anyware, which they use to centralize this data and dispatch vehicles appropriately.
Before Samsara, EMS Anyware received “breadcrumb” location data from their vehicles at intervals of 30 seconds to a minute—a long time in an emergency. Now, Samsara pushes real-time GPS data via our open API, which EMS Anyware uses to determine which vehicles are closest to a pickup address.
”We’re an emergency service, so if they don’t know where the closest unit is, that could be somebody’s life,” said Ackerman. “It’s super important for us to know at all times where every unit is, and Samsara makes it possible for us to see that real-time data in our own system.”
The integration was simple. In just a few minutes, they were able to give EMS Anyware read-only access to their Samsara data via an API token, so it feeds into the system in real time.
“We set it up with the Samsara team,” said Ackerman. “We had a three-way call, generated an API token, and now EMS Anyware is able to pull real-time GPS data directly from Samsara.”
Since SeniorCare EMS depends on this data for dispatching vehicles to emergencies, reliability is absolutely critical. Ackerman has been particularly impressed by Samsara’s uptime.
“I don’t think we’ve had any downtime yet, which is so important for us because if we don’t have GPS tracking, our dispatchers are blind,” said Ackerman.
“It’s super important for us to know at all times where every unit is, and Samsara makes it possible for us to see that real-time data in our own system.”
Ensuring client satisfaction with trip histories and live ETAs
Having reliable, real-time GPS data is important to SeniorCare EMS for another reason: client satisfaction. As part of SeniorCare EMS’ business model, they contract with local hospitals to provide inter-hospital transports and discharge pickups.
“We have a lot of contracts that are tied to on-time performance,” said Ackerman. “For example, the agreement may say we have to be there within 30 minutes of pickup time for non-emergency transports 90% of the time, otherwise we may owe them money or lose the contract.”
When they receive complaints or inquiries about on-time performance, Ackerman can simply log into Samsara and review any vehicle’s trip history. He noted that this helps reduce the “human element” risk of relying on drivers to always update their status accurately.
“With Samsara, it’s no question. We can show exactly where any vehicle was at any point in time,” said Ackerman. “Now, if someone forgets to hit that button that says he’s on-scene, we have the real-time GPS data to backfill that information.”
In addition to resolving customer inquiries quickly and easily, Ackerman has found another way to exceed customer expectations with Samsara: Live Sharing, which allows them to provide live-to-the-second ETAs via a shared URL.
“One amazing thing our customers like is the Live Sharing feature, especially for high profile transports,” said Ackerman. “For example, there was a doctor who was exposed to COVID-19 due his work treating patients. We transported him to one of the hospitals we work with for treatment, since they are conducting experimental COVID-19 studies. Since the patient was a well-known doctor, everyone at the hospital was waiting to greet him. I sent them a Live Sharing link. They could see exactly where the ambulance was and track it coming in.”
SeniorCare is always looking for ways to be as sensitive as possible to patient privacy and security, so Ackerman particularly likes the ability to set an expiration time for Live Sharing links.
“It’s so simple. I just say, ‘Here’s the link to track the vehicle.’ I give them two hours time–set it and forget it,” said Ackerman. “They love that. It’s amazing.”
Minimizing downtime with real-time diagnostics and alerts
Beyond client satisfaction and driver safety, SeniorCare EMS relies on Samsara’s real-time diagnostics and customizable alerts to ensure their vehicles are always up and running and prepared to respond to an emergency call.
“Because we operate emergency vehicles, we have a ton of stuff draining our batteries—emergency lights, the mobile data terminal, monitors plugged into the back,” said Ackerman. “Our fleet manager can get an alert when the battery dips below a certain voltage, so he can tell the crew members to turn on the vehicle to boost the charge. It’s a great feature.”
SeniorCare EMS also uses Samsara to monitor fault codes, allowing them to keep emergency vehicles that might have a small issue (but don’t need immediate service) on the road with confidence.
“The OBD sensor is great because it gives us details about, for example, a check engine light,” said Ackerman. “Since we have the exact fault code, we can know whether we need to get the vehicle over to maintenance immediately or whether it can stay in service today, so they don’t have to come back.”
A partnership built on responsiveness and innovation
As a business that has grown from a relatively small operation 15 years ago to more than 1,300 employees today, SeniorCare EMS values working with partners that can grow with them. That’s why Ackerman appreciated the opportunity to provide feedback on new Samsara features—and work directly with the Samsara team throughout implementation to unlock even more value for their fleet.
Ultimately, Ackerman said Samsara’s responsiveness to feedback and fast product innovation has been the most rewarding part of our partnership. For example, as a high-volume downloader of dash cam footage, Ackerman offered some suggestions for improving Samsara’s video retrieval feature. Just a few weeks later, he saw those changes live in his own dashboard.
“It’s just so great to see that when we make a suggestion, we see it implemented. It’s just tremendous,” said Ackerman. “It’s such a good feeling to work with a company that we’re really partners with, not just a customer.”