With the IQL UK conference coming up on 29 June, who better to start our ‘Five minutes with…’ short series of interviews, than with one of the key conference speakers…
Professor Mark Wilson, GoodSAM Co-founder and Medical Director, Neurosurgeon and Air Ambulance Doctor
How did the GoodSAM app come about?
With our air ambulance work we saw the real need for a solution which would get nearby, medically trained people to the scene, to perform basic first aid in the minutes before the statutory medical response arrived. From the incidents which air ambulance crew attended, it seemed that simple steps such as holding an airway open, performing early, quality CPR would, potentially be transformative, in terms of patient outcomes. Based on the application in a trauma context, the concept was picked up by London’s Ambulance Service who saw the use of a platform as a tool to support early intervention and support following cardiac arrest.
How does the app work?
GoodSAM is a community of thousands of GoodSAM Responders – verified off duty doctors, nurses, police officers, fire fighters and those trained and certified in first aid. GoodSAM integrates with Ambulance and other emergency services to support alerting and dispatch to a wide range of incidents, including cardiac arrest. Our first innovation, GoodSAM Cardiac, is live in several Ambulance Services across the UK. When a 999 call is received by one of these Ambulance Services and the caller is reporting symptoms which mean a cardiac arrest is likely, an alert is sent to the GoodSAM platform. GoodSAM in turn alerts the nearest GoodSAM Responders, providing them with the details of the incident and asking if they are free to attend to offer assistance until the Ambulance Service arrives. By connecting members of the community who are able to provide quality CPR and use an AED quickly, GoodSAM is saving lives and improving patient outcomes globally.
What was most challenging about developing the app?
GoodSAM is a community – growing that community and earning the trust of Ambulance Services was the biggest challenge. We’ve succeeded in doing this by placing governance and security at the heart of GoodSAM. We’ve worked extensively with our Emergency Service partners to develop a system which truly works for them and is trusted around the world. We are really proud to have developed a successful platform where Emergency Services and trained public volunteers work together for the joint purpose in saving lives – truly a world first!
What have you found most rewarding about this experience?
When I meet or hear about a survivor – and that happens often! We are very grateful to the community, who frequently write in to us to let us know about an incident that they have been alerted to and where there has been a positive outcome for the patient. We also receive letters and emails from patients themselves – who frequently weren’t aware of the GoodSAM system at the time, but want to express their thanks to the community of Responders.
If you had to do it again, what would you do differently?
That’s a tough one! Probably nothing – we’ve been incredibly fortunate with the partnerships and friends we have made. All of whom have been instrumental in one way or the other in bringing us to where we are today and enabling us to scale across the UK and beyond. We are now just looking forward, and focusing on delivering even more innovation to save lives.