Your Details

Your job title:

Founder / Executive Director

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Your organization name:

Trek Medics International

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https://www.trekmedics.org

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When was your organization founded?

2009, though it wasn't until 2013 that we became a full-time operation

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In what city, town, or region are you located?

Washington D.C., DC, USA
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In what city, town, or region is your organization headquartered?

Washington D.C., DC, USA
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In which countries does your organization currently operate?

  • Argentina
  • Costa Rica
  • Dominican Republic
  • Haiti
  • Ireland
  • Kenya
  • Malawi
  • Mexico
  • Romania
  • Somalia
  • South Africa
  • Tanzania
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Puerto Rico
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About You

Why are you applying for The Elevate Prize?

I’m applying to the Elevate Prize because I believe we share a common mission: “to build a powerful platform to mobilize communities, catalyze positive change and awaken the hero in all of us.”  

Since 2013, I’ve been working without stop to achieve just that by building a technology platform that enables any community or organization to design, test, launch and manage their own emergency response systems using whatever resources available – “9-1-1 for everyone.” 

If selected as a winner, I’d use it to:

  • Turn two of our part-time software engineers into full-time employees
  • Hire an experienced professional to run our business development efforts
  • Launch targeted promotional campaigns to double our user base in 12 months
  • Subsidize the use of our software for response organizations serving at-risk and vulnerable populations in resource-limited communities
  • Wildcard: Hire a part-time multimedia person to produce a podcast where we interview local emergency response managers who find themselves in the middle of extraordinary situations (e.g., Brumadinho dam disaster; Dhaka garment factory collapse; the Beirut port explosion et al.). We know they're easy to get a hold of and believe the international perspective would be a novel alternative to existing US-centric podcasts
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Tell us about YOU:

For more than 15 years I've been working in emergency management. I started as a paramedic working on ambulances on both sides of the US-Mexico border, then began to deploy with short-term disaster response teams, and ultimately progressed to long-term roles with international NGOs, aid agencies and governments.

Throughout my career, I've been working to understand and solve one simple problem: "How do communities ensure rapid access to emergency care when they don't have a lot of money?"

In particular, my experiences in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake led to three realizations that proved to be the impetus to turn Trek Medics into a full-time endeavor: 1) A lack of access to even the most basic level of emergency care results in a lot of unnecessary death and disability; 2) Most international response organizations tend to be focused on delivering emergency care themselves, and after the disaster has already struck; and 3) Reliable communications are the biggest obstacle to local capacity building.

Trek Medics' goal is to make it possible for any community to ensure rapid access to basic emergency care by providing the communications tools necessary to coordinate and manage their own emergency response networks using their own resources.

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Video Introduction

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Pitch your organization.

Most people don't realize it, but 9-1-1 is a luxury. Outside the wealthiest countries, few people can reliably call for help and find it when and where it's needed -- approximately 80% of the world's population is basically left to its own devices when faced with a life- or limb-threatening emergency. But even within the wealthiest countries, calling 9-1-1 doesn't always guarantee rapid access to life-saving care; disasters, geographic isolation and social inequalities are just a few of the obstacles preventing many populations from being able to reliably access emergency assistance.

In all of the above cases the problem isn't calling for help -- there are many, many ways to call for help. The real challenge is reliably coordinating the right people to respond to the right place at the right time.

That's where Trek Medics focuses: We build a cloud-based, emergency dispatching platform, called Beacon, that allows communities to alert, coordinate and track community responders where emergency services are overwhelmed, inadequate and/or slow to respond.

Our approach is simple: We offer Beacon to resource-limited communities and response agencies so they can manage their local networks using whatever phones they have in their pocket, with or without Internet.

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Describe what makes your work innovative.

Everybody has a mobile phone, but only a limited number of affluent communities can afford the legacy emergency communications systems used to dispatch and coordinate local responders -- and not everyone even needs them.

Our organization helps communities design and launch community-based emergency response networks, and then provides the technology needed so they can alert, coordinate and track community responders using whatever resources are available.

Our dispatch platform directs responders through different emergency response workflows, tailored to the specific services they're providing, from initial alert to hospital turnover. Our approach is based on our experience working in emergency services and living in resource-limited settings, effectively taking the overwrought legacy communications technologies used by formal services in affluent communities and distilling them to their most essential components so that they can be accessible via any mobile phone.

As a result, communities can use our platform to decentralize their dispatching system and increase the number of available responders, ultimately reducing response times by having more people ready to respond.

We're not really doing anything new; we're just lowering the barriers to entry, and dramatically.

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How and why is your organization having an impact on humanity?

We're having an impact on humanity because of our accessible and inclusive design philosophy: We started developing Beacon back in 2013 with the guiding principal of creating a solution that would be accessible to the most amount of people. At the time, that meant it had to be SMS-based. Since then, we've added web and mobile applications, while still maintaining the SMS functionality, so that we have solutions that match the local environment.

Our commitment to accessibility and inclusiveness also ensures that we're developing a solution that keeps barriers to entry as low as possible. This has led us to build Beacon with a do-it-yourself ethos, so that any agency or community can create an account and learn how to design, test, launch and manage the platform within their operations in 30 minutes or less -- assuming they have a basic understanding of emergency dispatching. Yet even for those organizations that have no prior experience in emergency dispatching, Beacon can be quickly learned and managed without specialized training. A clear example of this is that Beacon is being used by the US Coast Guard, the Somali Red Cross and boda boda drivers in Tanzania and Kenya.

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Select the key characteristics of the community your organization is impacting.

  • Women & Girls
  • Pregnant Women
  • LGBTQ+
  • Infants
  • Children & Adolescents
  • Elderly
  • Rural
  • Peri-Urban
  • Urban
  • Poor
  • Low-Income
  • Middle-Income
  • Refugees & Internally Displaced Persons
  • Minorities & Previously Excluded Populations
  • Persons with Disabilities
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Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your organization address?

  • 3. Good Health and Well-being
  • 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • 10. Reduced Inequality
  • 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
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Which of the following categories best describes your work?

Health

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Solution Team

  • Jason Friesen Founder/Executive Director, Trek Medics International
 
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