Project description

A research team from SWR’s science and data journalism editors has analyzed and compiled the exact deployment times of ambulances and emergency physicians in the region through its own data-journalistic analysis of rescue service statistics in south-west Germany. A total of 250 data requests were submitted to the actors involved (supervisory authorities, ministries of the interior, planning committees and rescue service organizations), and over 100,000 data records on working times and locations of the rescue equipment and the personnel situation were evaluated. Where does the rescue service take longer? How are the ambulance, ambulance and emergency vehicles distributed? And what are the consequences for the population? The result is a multimedia project that makes the corresponding data publicly accessible for the first time. The results will be available from January 17, 2018 at SWR.de/hilfeimnotfall on an interactive website where the exact data for 3,400 municipalities can be called up. Everyone can see with a simple click: how well works the emergengy rescue system?

What makes this project innovative?

There have been a lot of reports about emergency services in the past. The publication of official statistics gave rise to media reports year after year. But so far, no reporter has been able to show the structural under-supply of communities and systemic problems across the states, for every single community. Despite all the opposition from politics and rescue service organizations and after months of research, it has been possible for the first time to break the decades-long silence of those responsible.

What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?

The coverage has launched a public debate. For years, plans have been made in secret. The reporting created so much pressure on the state government that the Vice Prime Minister was forced to present a master plan for the rescue service in the state parliament of Baden-Wurttemberg.

Source and methodology

Rescue service organizations, Ministry of the Interior and regulatory authorities in Baden-Wuerttemberg initially did not want to answer inquiries of SWR's data investigations team. They unanimously referred to the annual general statistics. Only through months of research and a legal trick, the team finally managed to get to the documented data. We have found out that the district offices receive an annual report. We asked the local regulatory authorities for this report, that is sent to the official planning body by the quality assurance office for the ambulance service. This report contains internal figures about the performance of an area's emergency rescue system and has never been published before.
In Rhineland-Palatinate, we have received figures from the Ministry of Interior for each location. However, these data were initially incomplete. The team needed to find out what data was deleted before being submitted. Only after several inquiries to the Ministry of the Interior did the team receive all the information.
With the data collected, the team was able to understand how well communities are being reached by the ambulance service. With the help of the University of Mannheim, the team was finally able to carry out complex simulations of the rescue operations and calculate the coverage rates for 3,400 municipalities.
In addition, the research has revealed that many information in the data collection are faulty, planning logic leads to black holes in the statistics. And that several planning bodies do not follow the legal procedures.

Technologies Used

We used R for data analysis and simulations. For online, we used php, javascript and a data based code with visual tools (self programmed).
Limesurvey for research and data queries.

Project members

Ulrich Lang, Nico Heiliger, Birgit Borsutzky, Dr. Patrick Hünerfeld, Jana Lange, Jan Seipel, Holger Schmidt, Martin Schneider

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