Ukraine Ambulance

From Missile Attacks to Panic Attacks – A Day in the Life of Beacon

A few years ago, I remember waking up one morning to hear on the radio reports of multiple suicide bombings in Somalia. Knowing that local emergency services there were using our Beacon platform, I opened up my laptop, logged into Beacon, and saw on my computer screen how Beacon had been coordinating local response units to provide care at the scene of the bombings. It was an odd moment for me personally: On one hand, it was deeply gratifying to know that Beacon was being used to coordinate local responders during such a traumatic event, but on the other hand, it was a bit sobering to realize how far our software had come.

Earlier this summer, something similar happened: Reading the news one morning, I saw that a Russian missile attack had hit a city in eastern Ukraine where we knew local emergency services were using Beacon. After logging into Beacon on my computer, I saw that those same providers had dispatched a series of incidents to evacuate multiple patients with severe injuries and burns to higher level hospitals outside the bombed city. This time, though, my take on it was a bit different: The first thought that popped into my head was, “Why is it still so hard for us to get the word out about Beacon? It’s working perfectly.”

What do I mean by “perfectly”? On the same day that Beacon was being used to evacuate Ukrainians who were injured by Russian missile attacks, it was coordinating responders around the world to a number of other emergencies:

  • In Guatemala, Beacon was used to dispatch EMTs to someone with a dog bite that was bleeding severely
  • In Belize, Beacon was used to dispatch firefighters to a fire in the capital of Belmopan
  • In South Africa, Beacon was used to dispatch volunteer medics to an elderly woman having a stroke
  • In Puerto Rico, Beacon was used to dispatch volunteer medics to someone who had been shot by a gun
  • In Quebec, Beacon was used to alert security teams of a gas alarm at a children’s daycare center
  • In New York City, Beacon was used to dispatch community paramedics to provide care to a patient who was sick but didn’t need to go to the emergency department
  • In the Dominican Republic, Beacon was used to dispatch volunteer EMTs to a motorcycle collision near a baseball field
  • In Tanzania, Beacon was used to dispatch trained motorcycle taxi drivers to someone who was hit by a car while crossing the street
  • In Haiti, Beacon was used to dispatch nurses to a child who had become sick and couldn’t get to the hospital because it was too dangerous to travel the streets at night
  • In Las Vegas, Beacon was used to dispatch advocates to a domestic violence victim at a bus stop
  • In San Diego, Beacon was used to dispatch mental health crisis counselors to someone who was just having a really tough day and didn’t think they could cope any longer

Every day, our team wakes up to see how response agencies across the globe are using Beacon to coordinate and deliver care, using basic computers and the mobile phones in their pockets.

Yet, whenever we get new agencies signing up, they all ask the same question: “How come we didn’t know about you before?

The answer is that getting the word out is a lot harder than it seems — you’d think that a platform that truly saves lives would be an easy thing to raise awareness about, but it’s not.

Fortunately, we’re getting essential support from very important donors: Cisco continues to support our software development team, PagerDuty helps us keep the lights on, the bills paid, and the operations budget funded, Twilio just awarded us another grant to ensure our technical support team stays staffed for another year, and Vision Point Systems hosted a golf outing last month for us.

All of these grants and your individual support play a crucial role in helping us grow our impact. Whether it’s missile attacks, dog attacks or panic attacks, Beacon makes it possible for communities to ensure the right responder is sent to the right location at the right time.

After 10 years of hard work, we can say with certainty that we’ve solved the technology problem — but we still need to solve the awareness problem.

And that’s where we could really use your help: We’re supporting a wide range of response agencies around the world who are now equipped with the tech needed to transform community response systems of all types, but we still need to get the word out.

Any support you can offer to help us find new users is greatly appreciated — we hope our track record is enough to convince them that we’re on to great things.

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Beacon emergency dispatch is a cloud-based, do-it-yourself platform for emergency services that alerts, coordinates and tracks prehospital personnel using any mobile phone, with or without internet.

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