This blog was originally published on the Medlert Inc. blog.
Last week, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, published an emotional commentary on her experiences of grief after losing her husband, Dave Goldberg, in early May.
Many have applauded Ms. Sandberg’s willingness to share her experiences publicly, to be vulnerable and open, and write about the difficulties of returning to life after loss and trying right a world that will never really be the same.
We, too, applaud this brave work. We send our condolences to Ms. Sandberg and her children, to the Sandberg and Goldberg families, and to the many, many people in Silicon Valley and elsewhere who mourn Dave’s loss.
In her essay, Ms. Sandberg writes about the ephemeral nature of life, about parenthood and marriage and love, and how tragedy presents a choice: to give in to the void or to choose meaning.
It’s powerful piece, and we recommend everyone read it.
Sandberg’s Ambulance Experience
We want to pick up on one particular point Ms. Sandberg makes, which was also explored by Bustle magazine here. Many cars failed to yield to the ambulance that took Ms. Sandberg and her husband to the hospital.
In her piece, Ms. Sandberg writes:
“Although we now know that Dave died immediately, I didn’t know that in the ambulance. The trip to the hospital was unbearably slow. I still hate every car that did not move to the side, every person who cared more about arriving at their destination a few minutes earlier than making room for us to pass. I have noticed this while driving in many countries and cities. Let’s all move out of the way. Someone’s parent or partner or child might depend on it.”
It’s important point about community, about traffic laws, and about driver awareness, but the issue Ms. Sandberg is touching on is much bigger than individual drivers yielding to ambulances.
Slow Ambulance Transport One Symptom of a Larger Problem
In fact, Ms. Sandberg’s experience with ‘unbearably slow’ ambulance transport is just one of many examples of how the emergency response system is inefficient and slow, which can cost lives; and lead to preventable disabilities. There are other examples of ambulance rides that costs lives (see this story out of India); and of ambulances that took long to reach a person need, (for example, these stories out of DC and Detroit.)
There so many ways, we can improve emergency response, which was the impetus for founding Medlert Inc. Our mission is to use technology to build a faster and more efficient emergency response and medical transport system.
We are not the only ones doing this work.
The Medtronic Foundation founded the HeartRescue Project to drive faster, citizen-driven response to sudden cardiac arrest, including the use of AEDs and administration of CPR. The Pulsepoint app was built with similar goals in mind: upping bystander CPR. Recently, Trek Medics International’s Founder, J. Friesen, floated the idea of an app to guide citizen-driven response with naloxone, “the overdose antidote,” to help people experiencing a drug overdose. These are just a few of the examples of how people in the EMS field are pushing for faster, better emergency response.
But the challenges are not insignificant.
The EMS system is facing a growing number of calls for non-emergency, but needed, medical care. Often these calls come from people who struggle to get the care they need elsewhere, including people living with chronic health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, or mental illness. Overall, the EMS system, and the healthcare system in general, is in desperate need of innovative models and tools for responding to these new demands.
The reality is, even though a faster ambulance ride would not have saved Dave Goldberg’s life, but there others for whom lost seconds and minutes mean the difference between life and death. We know this.
We know too, that the technology tools do exist today to build a better system using mobile-based apps, real-time navigation and traffic routing, crash detection tools, and fast, secure, digital connections between dispatchers, ambulance crews, hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
It is our mission to build better technology tools that help ambulances and hospitals offer faster, more transparent, and more efficient emergency response and medical transport.