Foto: Thomas Freteur, OutOfFocus.be
IN APRIL 2015 we launched Beacon in the Dominican Republic in partnership with the local fire department, el Cuerpo de Bomberos Manzanillo, led by Colonel Ramon Soriano. Over the past year, the Colonel has taken charge of a group of local volunteers, provided training, structure and leadership, and has used our software, Beacon, to strengthen and expand their emergency services to neighboring communities. Last week they responded to their 100th request for emergency assistance, and the timing couldn’t have been better. The 100th response came shortly after Cardinal Health and the Bindu Project donated together another $20,000 to our program, (their second round of support!), and just as we’ve been putting the finishing touches on our final report for the Google Impact grant ending this month — only a week before the ceremony we’re having in the D.R. to celebrate the expansion of the program to new communities. (If you’re interested in joining us, you’re invited! — see details below).
While the full data sets are still being worked through (and new data keeps coming in), we wanted to share this preliminary snapshot with you to illustrate the work that your support has made possible in the D.R., and to say THANK YOU for sticking with us the whole way! https://www.trekmedics.org/programs/dr/stats/
Later in April I had the chance to make a trip to Cape Town, South Africa, to present the latest on our Tanzania program at the International Conference for Emergency Medicine. The trip also gave me the chance to finally meet Dr. Marko Hingi in person. Marko’s the executive director of our partner organization, the Tanzania Rural Health Movement, and someone I first came into contact with almost one year ago to the day when he sent in an application on Apr. 27th, 2015, asking to start a pilot program with us using Beacon. Three months after Marko reached out, Benjamin Gilmour made a trip to meet Marko and scout out Mwanza, where Marko was finishing his medical degree. A few weeks later, Ben returned to Australia and called to give us the green light to move forward in Mwanza. Three months later Scott Campbell, another Australian medic, flew down to Mwanza to work with Marko to train the community and set up Beacon. Since then, (and as featured on CNN), Marko’s overseen the training and deployment of over 100 community responders who’ve responded to nearly 50 emergencies — the overwhelming majority of which for traumatic injuries.
Another interesting occurrence this month was the beginning of Marko’s emergency medicine internship — at the same hospital that’s now receiving patients transported via the EMS system he built. It’s hard to say if you find a better example of local ownership than that; there’s no doubt that the Mwanza program is in good hands and with a very bright future. The same can be said for Colonel Ramon’s work in the D.R., and in both cases we’re more excited than ever to be supporting these volunteers however we can to help them strengthen their own services. We’re seeing better than ever that it doesn’t take much to stand up a new quality program, get some big wins and lay the foundation to keep things moving forward.
To be sure, we’re by no means trying to say that these programs are meeting the full demand for emergency care that exists across their communities — far from it — but, as we hope these initial statistics will start to show, the money we’re spending is being well spent. Because of your support, local volunteers are providing life-saving emergency services and always eager for more, while the communities are now able to call for help when it’s never been reliable. Marko told me that in Mwanza the fire department is getting more respect now because the community’s seeing them out on the streets, responding to calls and providing help more frequently. This is inspiring for the firefighters, giving them more respect in the community and motivating them to give more at their job to the community. It’s really gratifying to see. And it makes complete sense. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard from the locals in different countries the same complaints: “The firefighters are lazy.” “The Red Cross doesn’t care.” But it’s not true! Those aren’t the problems, those are symptoms of deeper root problems: the firefighters and community health workers simply haven’t had the tools they need to do the job they’re expected to do. That can be really, really self-defeating.
But now we know all of this can change. We’ve seen what it takes to get something started, and we’re confident that once the stake has been planted it won’t removed so long as the system is built using resources that are taken from within the community. Manzanillo and Mwanza are both proving how it can happen.
With these success in mind, and some preliminary data out now out for you to see, I’d like to you ask to please continue supporting us and the inspiring work our partner communities are doing by making a contribution at www.trekmedics.org/donate/ — every bit truly helps!
Our sincerest thanks for all your support,
If you’d like to learn more about our work and how we approach EMS systems development in resource-limited communities, I had a great time sharing with our friends at DisasterPodcast.com — click here to listen to part 1 of the interview.
If you’d like to join us at our ceremony in Manzanillo, it’ll be this Saturday April 30th at the Manzanillo Golf Club, from 10:00a — 12:00pm.