IN BRIEF: We’re asking you to support us in Puerto Rico by donating today and helping us reach our $20,000 matching gift goal to bring 9-1-1 where there currently is none. With your support we’ll be able to equip local fire departments, ambulance services and community response teams across the island with the tools they need to take care of their own communities. Every dollar you donate will be used to cover our travel and the expenses needed to train, launch and operate the platform while setting the ground for Puerto Ricans to rebuild their EMS stronger.
Please support us now by donating through our website at www.trekmedics.org/donate and helps us spread the news by sharing the link.
Neighbors Helping Neighbors
Before hurricanes Irma and Maria tore across the Caribbean, Puerto Rico had a functioning, if not shaky 9-1-1 system. But by the time Hurricane Maria shred its away across the island, their 9-1-1 system was without power and many of the island’s roads were impassable. Just as in the D.R., though, as long as the cell phone connectivity was good the grave situation seemed like a clear opportunity for Beacon to be a very useful solution. So, in an attempt to gauge both the quality of cell phone connectivity and local interest in using Beacon, we reached out to a few contacts we had in Puerto Rico and also sent out test ads on Facebook directed at local firefighters, paramedics and CERT teams to see how they responded. Despite the poor communications available – all landlines were down and internet connection was spotty, at best — we got an immediate and enthusiastic response from first responders in many different parts of the island. After talking with a few of them and testing Beacon using SMS, it became clear there was both a real need for better communications and a well-equipped workforce to partner with.
When we shared what we’d been learning with one of our board members, Perry Robinson, he agreed it sounded like a real opportunity and said he thought he could help: He came back a few days later with the great news that he had gotten approval from the Widgeon Point Foundation to award us a $20,000 grant to support the effort, albeit with one catch: The grant had to be matched 1:1 to get the full $20,000. But for that, too, he had an idea and he reached out to Matthew Holt with the Health2.0 conference, who not only gave us a few minutes to talk about our work and announce our campaign, but who also pitched in $2,000 to get us started. A very welcome surprise! Watch the video here.
So this is where we’re at: Once the cell phone coverage is more reliable, we’re heading down to Puerto Rico to help local first response agencies start re-building their 9-1-1 systems using Beacon. We know it’s going to take a long time before their emergency services get back to where they were, so we see Beacon as an ideal way to ensure local first responders can continue to be alerted when and where someone needs emergency assistance.
And we’re asking your help to make this happen!
Support us now by donating through our website at www.trekmedics.org/donate. Every dollar you donate will be matched 1:1 up to $20,000.
Summer Recap and Other Updates
The summer was busy but with few real surprises compared to what September brought:
- In June and July, Dr. Dianne trekked across the Dominican Republic introducing our Beacon software to fire departments, bringing two new communities onto Beacon
- In July with support from Twilio, we started building the new Beacon mobile app and then re-designed our website to prepare for its launch
- At the end of August we reached a new milestone in the D.R., with the 1,000th emergency being dispatched for an incident at the Hotel Secreto in Guayubin
Then in September things got hairy when three devastating hurricanes came plowing through the Caribbean, each one affecting our programs, partners and staff in different ways:
- One day before Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas, Jason was deployed with DMAT-CA4, a federal disaster response team, and sent to Houston for two weeks where they set up a field hospital and provided medical care to people displaced by the hurricane and flooding
- Two days before Hurricane Irma swept across the northern coast of the D.R., affecting all of the communities Trek Medics is supporting, Dr. Dianne gave birth to her first child, Otto. When the storm passed, the communities experienced widespread flooding, with thousands of Dominicans evacuated from coastal communities, putting first responders and Beacon to their biggest test yet
- Not long after, Hurricane Maria also hit the northern Dominican Republic, but thankfully spared them the widespread damage done during Irma
Despite the devastation of the hurricanes, a lot of good came from the experiences. The responders we’re supporting had a lot of opportunity to work together supporting their communities and received some well-deserved recognition. They’ve also done a lot to recruit new members and gain the respect of all of the people whose lives they touched. We’re very proud of the work they’re doing and look forward to building on the successes they’ve had.
In Loving Memory
With great sadness regret to inform you that Christian Broadbent, our close friend and long-time graphic designer, passed away on August 27th, 2017, at the age of 37 from stage 4 melanoma. On behalf of his family and friends, we’d like to thank everyone who contributed to his GoFundMe campaign. The money raised was instrumental in ensuring that he could focus on his care and well-being in his final months.