Over the last 3 years, the world’s first full-circle Emergency Medical Services (EMS) system using cloud-based location technology has been operating in Ethiopia.

NMC paramedic using ambulance tablet – Emergency Dispatch Africa’s EMS system

ADDIS ABABA, Nov 12, 2018 — This week marks the 3-year anniversary of Ethiopia’s first full-circle Emergency Medical Services (EMS) system. Launched in 2015 by Nordic Medical Centre in partnership with Health-Technology company Kiipo, it allowed Emergency Call Centre (ie. 911) dispatchers and ambulances to immediately locate and help any person in need of assistance in Ethiopia.

Although Ethiopia’s health system has seen steady improvements over the last decades, it still lacks effective Emergency Medical Services. Ethiopia does not have a centralized EMS dispatch center or the infrastructure in place to provide relatively quick emergency services. In a country where street names are limited, it becomes nearly impossible to accurately describe the location of an emergency. Along with unreliable infrastructure, including frequent power outages, road closures, and cellular data network outages, it would be impossible to simply import an EMS system from another nation into this fluctuating environment.

However, this bleak outlook has been able to start shifting in recent years. In 2015, Nordic Medical Centre (NMC) teamed up with Kiipo, a Canadian/Taiwanese Health-Technology company, to launch Ethiopia’s first full-circle EMS system serving a pilot group of residents in Addis Ababa. The system is, in addition, the world’s first full-circle EMS system using cloud-based location technology. “This system enables anyone with a mobile phone to be located regardless if the often-fluctuating cellular data (3G/4G) network is down, while also connecting users, dispatchers, ambulances, and hospitals via various specified Apps and modules,” said Chris Peng, Co-founder, Kiipo. “The EMS system was specifically designed to continuously adapt itself to Ethiopia’s unique infrastructure challenges.”

NMC dispatcher using the Kiipo EMS system

“With time playing a critical role in any emergency response, having the ability to be immediately located could be the difference between life and death,” said Kjell Kiplesund, CEO, NMC. With no EMS system previously in place in Ethiopia, “this type of leapfrog technology allows the country to skip over the outdated systems currently used in many countries, and build an entire EMS system using new technologies that are simply more efficient,” said Jordan Masys, Co-founder, Kiipo.

To accompany the system, they also created localized operational protocols and launched a training team (comprised of EMS operations experts, paramedics, etc) that provides the necessary training for staff utilizing the system.

“But what we’re most proud of, is that it was developed during our time in Ethiopia, in collaboration with medical professionals at NMC – a true testament to the level of passion and ingenuity in Ethiopia,” added Masys.

NMC and Kiipo are currently looking to expand this life-saving system within Ethiopia. “We dream of providing Ethiopia, from rural to urban communities, the capability to establish their own Emergency Medical Services,” Jordan Masys said. With this system, Ethiopia has an opportunity to become an exemplar in creating change by deploying innovative technology and life-saving medical interventions across its healthcare system.

Now known as Emergency Dispatch Africa, they look to change the fact that over 900 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa are living without proper emergency medical services.