Jennifer Farrell was a SOL student in 2003. She is currently a physician and founder of CriticaLink, a non-profit social enterprise that trains volunteer First Responders in life-saving emergency medical skills in Bangladesh.
This summer Jennifer hosted SOLster Tina Chen (’17) at CriticaLink in Dhaka. Jennifer describes Tina’s summer experience:
Bangladesh by itself is an extremely challenging environment, and as a fairly new organization with only a few full-time staff members, we are still finding our groove. Early on, Tina was very quiet and shy and she didn’t quite know what to do with herself unless I gave her very specific instructions. Then, somewhere in the first few weeks, something clicked, she found her confidence, and started doing things on her own. And doing them VERY well.
This weekend all of her work came together through a major event she organized for our “elite” First Responders called the “2015 Scenario Challenge.” She conducted several Advanced Training Sessions on her own, and put together a competition for teams of our very best First Responders to compete against one another and show off their skills. Teams would be dispatched to simulated accident scenes in the street—they didn’t know when or where they would have to go, so when the call went out they responded as if it were a real accident. We would then be waiting for them on the street with a fake patient/scenario and scored them as they ran through the simulation as if it were a real call. Despite horrible weather, everyone showed up and the outcome was better than I could have dreamed!
The Scenario Challenge she put together was a brilliant concept that was fun for all of our participants and organizers as well as having a huge impact on CriticaLink from several perspectives. We have trained a lot of First Responders, but we were having a hard time keeping them engaged and excited because our call volume is still low. Through Tina’s work this summer, she was able to provide ways for our trained volunteers to stay involved and challenged, and she tripled the number of First Responders we had in our online system because she got them excited to be part of our organization. This competition gave our First Responders an opportunity to use their training and be visible on the streets and through social media. Tina was even able to get solid sponsorship for the event so we could print t-shirts, do extra trainings, and give away great prizes to the winning team (new smartphones!), which was hugely inspiring for the volunteers. We also got to test our mobile app all at once on 30-40 different phones during the simulation, which is giving us great data to help us figure out where some problems are. Tina has also developed a survey so we can better understand the challenges the volunteers had with the mobile app/dispatch system and get valuable insight to help us in the development of the Version 2 of our app.
Finally, one of the biggest things to come out of this weekend’s event was the interaction we had with the community during the simulations. We were out on the street, and crowds would gather to see what was going on and take pictures. This was great because people started to ask who we are and what we are doing, they also engaged us in a LOT of discussion about why they were afraid to get involved when someone was hurt, their concerns about the police and legal system, and they offered some suggestions about how they would want to access it with regard to the call center/mobile app. We also had the police come by at one point, and I was scared they were going to tell us to leave, but instead they came to tell us how important this work was and asked how they could support us! Incredible. We also had several cars stop and ask if they could help take someone to a hospital, not knowing it was a simulation, but that was also really great.
It poured rain the entire weekend, but EVERY volunteer showed up and worked hard with a smile on their face. This event was so crucial for us right now to keep things moving forward and keep our volunteers motivated, and to keep the media and PR working in our favor. I am so incredibly grateful for Tina’s work, and REALLY amazed at how she was able to be a self-starter, come up with a brilliant project that was gave us important information but also did a lot to improve morale and engagement with our volunteers. She really deserves a lot of credit for the work she’s done this summer.
We are really missing Tina but excited for her to be back for her capstone class at Duke. I really hope that she enjoyed herself and my “sink or swim” approach wasn’t too stressful. It was certainly a super positive learning experience on our side as well, as we grow as an organization we are learning how to do a better job incorporating and making the most out of new members of our team.