One characteristic held by many of our Fellows and Fellows for Life is the ability to identify a health need and create innovative solutions to fill that need. As Fellow for Life Jennifer Farrell (New Orleans 2011-2012) explains in this recent TEDx Talk, she is doing just that.
The Tulane med school student and Fulbright Scholar (who designed and implemented a community health leadership program at a local high school for her Fellowship project and then went on to become a Lambaréné Fellow in 2013) is pioneering an exciting new program to reduce road fatalities in Bangladesh. Road accidents claim between 12,000 and 20,000 lives annually in Bangladesh, largely due to a lack of emergency responders and infrastructure like the 911 system that exists in the United States.
As Farrell notes in her talk, “Time is everything in emergency medicine.” In poorer countries like Bangladesh, however, emergency services are non-existent or inadequate, which means that accident victims succumb needlessly to injuries at much higher rates than victims in wealthier nations. For example, Farrell points out that for every one person who dies in a road accident in the UK, 100 people die in similar accidents in Bangladesh.
In the capital city of Dhaka, Farrell and her colleagues at the newly formed nonprofit CriticalLink are training a network of volunteer responders who can be dispatched to accident scenes via a mobile application. The app allows users to report accidents from their mobile devices―including the ability to send photos of accident scenes that can help doctors assess the extent of victims’ injuries. With the goal of reducing emergency response time, the app dispatches the nearest medical personnel to the scene. It also offers first aid tips to guide bystanders on comforting victims while they wait for help, and provides the locations of nearby hospitals for users in less critical situations.
The app and a more traditional emergency telephone call center were launched on Nov. 14. We’re excited to see how the app is received and utilized by the citizens of Dhaka and hope it’s a successful step toward making the city’s streets safer for all who use them.
As Farrell tells her audience at her TEDx Talk, “We have to get away from this idea that there’s nothing we can do. [This idea that], ‘Accidents happen.’”