OnStar Connections

October 18, 2013 by

Celebrating Life After the Crash

Celebrating life after the crash
Celebrating life after the crash


Every day OnStar Automatic Crash Response helps dozens of people whose air bags have gone off during a crash. Before they even have time to wonder what to do, the Advisor is doing it for them, sending help and asking, “Are you OK?”

Margaret Nelms Taylor, who was seriously injured in a deer-vehicle crash in a remote area.
Celebrating life after the crash
My granddaughter was just 4 when I had that crash. I’ve been able to enjoy all of these years with her since then and I’m so grateful for that. It’s hard to put into words how important this is to me.

--Margaret Nelms Taylor, who was seriously injured in a deer-vehicle crash in a remote area.

Janice Rector, who's vehicle flipped over and landed upside down. Since the crash, she's also become a grandmother for the first time.
Celebrating life after the crash
The highlight of the day for me was seeing my daughter walk down the aisle with her Dad. Words can’t describe how grateful we are to have been here for the wedding.

--Janice Rector, whose vehicle flipped over and landed upside down. Since the crash, she’s also become a grandmother for the first time.

Terry Hensley, who's enjoyed the birth of two more grandchildren since the crash, and is grateful that she's able to take care of her 86-year-old mother.
Celebrating life after the crash
The crash flipped our vehicle on its side and all I could think of was getting those babies out of the car. I calmed down as soon as I heard the OnStar voice. I knew help was on the way.

--Terry Hensley, who’s enjoyed the birth of two more grandchildren since the crash, and is grateful that she’s able to take care of her 86-year-old mother.

Bernadette Holzer, who was travelling with her husband when they crashed into a bear.
Celebrating life after the crash
It's not something that happens too often, if ever. It even made the local paper and became a little bit of a joke among our friends.

--Bernadette Holzer, who was travelling with her husband when they crashed into a bear.

Automatic Crash Response: A look at the technology
Celebrating life after the crash

Automatic Crash Response1: A Look at the Technology

In a crash, something amazing happens. OnStar-equipped vehicles have been designed to sense the impact, trigger air bags, use GPS satellite technology to determine its exact location, gather relevant crash data, and open a cellular connection to an OnStar Advisor. Which means the right kind of help is on its way to you as quickly as possible … even if you’re unconscious. Here’s a look at the technology that makes it all possible.

Visit onstar.com for vehicle availability, details and system limitations. OnStar acts as a link to existing emergency service providers. Not all vehicles may transmit all crash data.

Your 2014 General Motors vehicle has just been hit from the side. Within 1 millisecond, built-in sensors detect a sudden change in velocity and send data to the Sensing Diagnostic Module (SDM) to begin analyzing the crash and activating appropriate systems as needed.


In 2011, the most recent year available, there were an estimated 5.3 million police-reported traffic crashes in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That’s an average of one crash every six seconds of every day.

Typically, a GM vehicle has 6 sensors located in key zones within the vehicle that feed data to the Sensing Diagnostic Module.

The crash alert from your vehicle’s sensors sends the Sensing Diagnostic Module (SDM) into action. In addition to deploying the air bags during the crash (if necessary), within fractions of a second after a crash the SDM turns on the emergency flashers, and unlocks the doors for first responders, depending on your vehicle.

The module gathers data on the crash – such as whether air bags deployed, the velocity, direction and severity of the collision and whether it was a rollover.


Generally, air bags inflate and deflate in less than 1 second. (In rollovers, bags stay inflated longer to help protect occupants.)

Front air bags are generally designed to deploy in “moderate to severe” frontal or near-frontal crashes. Those are defined as crashes that are equivalent to hitting a solid, fixed barrier at 8–14 MPH or higher. (This would be equivalent to striking a parked car of similar size at about 16–28 MPH or higher.)

Front air bags saved 25,782 lives between 1987 and 2008.

Within seconds your vehicle sends a signal to the OnStar Call Center. An OnStar Advisor is connected to the vehicle and an alert indicating that you’ve been in a crash appears on the Advisor’s computer screen with a vivid red banner at the top.


The OnStar module also relays the exact location of your vehicle — within a few feet — to the Emergency Advisor immediately after the crash.

On average, OnStar receives more than 2,800 Automatic Crash Response calls in the U.S. each month. Since 1997, OnStar has assisted in more than 229,000 Automatic Crash Response calls in the U.S.

The OnStar Emergency Advisor contacts 911 and provides key crash details (rollover, air bag deployment) that allow emergency personnel to anticipate what equipment may be needed at the scene. The Advisor also relays your precise location to 911 so first responders can find you quickly.

Even if you are unconscious, the Emergency Advisor stays on the line monitoring the situation until first responders arrive, while also relaying information to them about the crash.


OnStar uses the vehicle’s exact location to determine the appropriate 911 dispatch center for the Emergency Advisor to contact.

OnStar Emergency Advisors receive an additional 160 hours of training in how to handle emergency situations. They must be prepared for any scenario, since there’s no way to predict when calls will come and how life-threatening the situation will be.

In a typical month, OnStar Advisors contact emergency responders to send help for more than 2,800 crashes.

In many crash situations, the OnStar Emergency Advisor will be assisted by an Advisor certified by the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch® to provide Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) services using the Medical Priority Dispatch System®.

If necessary, this EMD-certified Emergency Advisor may provide emergency medical instructions until first responders arrive. Meanwhile, the OnStar Emergency Advisor can remain on the line to help keep the subscriber calm.


After a crash, an invisible countdown begins. Emergency professionals call it the Golden Hour. It’s the best time to minimize injury and maximize outcomes. Automatic Crash Response can help medical workers get to you faster, armed with information about your emergency.

OnStar has more than 80 trained and certified EMD Advisors on staff to assist on calls.

OnStar encourages its subscribers to call if they see someone else who needs emergency assistance — and they do. OnStar receives more than 200 Good Samaritan calls every day.

OnStar has been recognized as one of only 127 Accredited Emergency Dispatch Centers of Excellence worldwide by the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch®.

OnStar Emergency Advisors: Ready for anything
Celebrating life after the crash


They’re calm, confident, highly trained and ready for anything — from a car crash to a heart attack to the birth of a baby on a lonely stretch of highway. Every day, using only their voice, OnStar Emergency Advisors assist subscribers in critical situations.

Meet four of these amazing Advisors:

OnStar Emergency Advisors: Taking charge in an emergency
Celebrating life after the crash

Taking charge in an emergency

“In an emergency situation, the subscriber has to be your eyes,” says EMD-certified OnStar Emergency Advisor Heather Gainey. “You are a voice over the radio. But you are also the rock that they are able to stand on. You are there for them and you aren’t going anywhere. It’s important they know that they are not alone.

I prepare myself for calls by thinking about how I would want the person to be treated if he or she was a member of my own family.”

OnStar Emergency Advisors: Dedicated to helping
Celebrating life after the crash

Dedicated to helping

Patricia Aiken was one of the first OnStar EMD-certified Emergency Advisors. She’s handled hundreds of emergency calls over the years and prides herself on sounding calm and collected while assisting people, no matter how serious the situation.

“People are screaming, they’re hurt, they’re scared,” she says. “Sometimes I’ll break out in a sweat while handling the call, and I’ve actually had team leaders fan me while I’m taking care of everything. But the subscriber will never know, which is exactly as it should be.”

OnStar Emergency Advisors: Trained to handle any situation
Celebrating life after the crash

Trained to handle any situation

OnStar Emergency Advisors undergo more than a month of intensive classroom training and role-playing to prepare them to deal with just about any critical situation.

“We’re well prepared to provide the best care possible, no matter what the situation,” says James Boston, an EMD-certified OnStar Emergency Advisor."When I’m working, I’m in it to win it. I give it my all the entire eight to nine hours I’m here. Because making a difference in someone’s life is no small thing.

OnStar Emergency Advisors: Calm and collected, call after call
Celebrating life after the crash

Calm and collected, call after call

A bilingual Advisor, Diana Mendoza handles both emergency and non-emergency calls. On average, she’ll take 60–75 calls a day — nearly 1,500 a month.

What’s the most important thing for Emergency Advisors as they handle so many high-stress calls in a day?“Staying grounded and focused,” she says. “Fortunately, we are very well trained and therefore we can be confident in that training when someone needs us.”

  • DeeMarie Rose

    Last year I was quite surprised when we were rear-ended and OnStar did not come on and ask if we needed assistance. Luckily, we were not seriously injured and the car was driveable.

  • steve warrick

    Does it not contact if the air bags dont deploy? I was in a crash in my 2012 camaro this weekend and am an on star subscriber of 2 years yet I was never checked on

  • Jenney

    I was in an accident on Feb 19, 2014; the other driver lost control and jumped a median, hitting me on my driver’s side. Because my airbags did not deploy, I hit my OnStar button, and while I didn’t hit the “correct” one, once I told the person I was in an accident, they rerouted the call to the correct people there. The best thing for me was when I was connected with my mom; she is my emergency contact, and the only person who could have kept me calm enough to not try to get out of my vehicle. I asked the officer at the scene (he came to the ER where I was taken) why my airbags didn’t deploy, and he said something about the speed at the time of the impact, and where my vehicle was hit. I really didn’t care, was just curious. Just glad I had (and still have) OnStar…as a matter of fact, once I got my vehicle back from being virtually rebuilt on the driver’s side, my mom and some other family members paid for a year’s subscription. They said they would rather do that then send flowers…I laughed and said that works for me!

  • Joe Fry

    I have a 2008 hhr and my key fobs are broken. Is there a remote link for late model cars

  • Chris

    My daughter and I was in a car accident on 09/01/2014. the car hit me head on. First time in my life that I seen an airbag go off. Just like the commercial you guys were there and stayed with us until help arrived. They called the ambulance, police everyone! I want to say that this service is top notch. Even through all of the commotion of the accident the On star representative was wonderful and calm I will continue to pay for this AMAZING service. I can’t thank you enough!! Thank you On star!!!

  • Guest

    i do have the onstar service i like the fact if i was in bad situation they can call for help and get ahold of my parents if needed, i have not had a problem with the service

  • Sean G.

    the pepole who posted abou there accidents , im happy u guys are alive and ok