Road traffic injuries are a rapidly growing epidemic throughout the developing world but often get less attention than other healthcare challenges. In addition to causing immense suffering for the victims, these events can also have profound and multigenerational impacts on families and communities. Sadly, despite the overwhelming need for rapid access to care, many developing countries lack a formal pre-hospital emergency medical system to treat these victims at the crash scene.
We provide free trauma first aid services on the highways. Our service model utilizes an emergency hotline number, a 24/7 call center, and volunteer first responders recruited from the local community who are trained in basic trauma first aid and provided with necessary medical equipment like stretchers and bandages. The training curriculum has been designed to teach simple but life-saving skills that can be learned and performed even by those with little formal education.
The direct beneficiaries of the service are patients injured on the highways and in need of urgent medical care, with all demographics represented. The indirect beneficiaries are TraumaLink’s 433 Volunteer First Responders, all of whom are local community members from many different backgrounds including teachers, small business owners, and farmers. The community-at-large also benefits from the increased attention on road traffic injuries and the focus on creating a safer community.
Mission and Vision
We have developed this simple, low cost, and easily scalable model so that it utilizes resources available in any developing nation. Our dream has always been to prove the effectiveness of the model in Bangladesh, so that it could then serve as an example in bringing these vital services to other underserved areas in the developing world.
Before beginning operations we hold multiple meetings with local community members and leaders to create strong relationships and recruit potential volunteers. All volunteers receive training on basic trauma first aid, in small groups, from a Bangladeshi physician-trainer, focusing on life saving skills that are easy to teach, learn, and perform. Successful graduates are registered to serve as TraumaLink Volunteer First Responders and undergo retraining every 6-12 months. They are supervised by paid TraumaLink field staff who provide local support and quality control.
We have a dedicated emergency hotline number that provides access to our 24/7 call center. Operators first collect information on the incident location and number of injured patients. Using this information, our custom designed software automatically dispatches volunteers by SMS message, prioritized by their proximity to the crash scene. First aid supplies are stored in easily accessible locations to provide 24 hour a day availability. After patients have been treated at the crash scene, operators provide guidance on the nearest appropriate medical facility based on each patient’s location and the severity of their injuries. When all victims have been transported from the scene, the operator follows up by phone with the first responders to collect additional demographic and operational information related to the call.
Bangladesh does not currently have a comprehensive national emergency response system to treat traffic injury victims. Yet, when a crash occurs there are almost always people at the scene trying to help. Without proper training or equipment, however, these efforts may not always help to improve patient outcomes and can sometimes cause harm. We felt that if we could harness this good will by providing guidance, education, and first aid supplies then we could really start making a difference in peoples' lives. The widespread and rapidly growing use of mobile technology in Bangladesh has given us an extremely powerful tool for organizing these volunteer emergency services that did not exist just a few years before.
Planned Goals and Milestones
We are actively expanding our services in Bangladesh, first prioritizing the major highways, where most serious incidents are occurring. We will then move into secondary roads and eventually create a cohesive national network of community-based first responders integrated with government services. We are also in the early stages of our first international expansion to Ghana and looking ahead to starting similar projects in other developing countries.