Coming up with revolutionary ideas

By ELI BEER
September 21, 2019 21:19
3 minute read.
MDA ambulance at the scene of a stabbing in Afula

MDA ambulance at the scene of a stabbing in Afula. (photo credit: MAGEN DAVID ADOM)

Sometimes the simplest idea can change the world. As I am often traveling around the world, I make it a habit to meet with EMS organizations, and many times they tell me how big their ambulances have to be in order for it to be comfortable for the driver or to have better access to the patient. When I hear this I tell them, “The patient doesn’t need a larger ambulance, they need it to arrive at the hospital as fast as possible. Ambulances are not fast enough, and the bigger they are, the more likely they are to get stuck in traffic or on narrow roadways.”

Recently, in a conversation with a representative from a local fire department, I realized how much money is wasted by various municipalities which send fire trucks to help people who are having medical emergencies. Forget about ambulances being too big to get through traffic, fire trucks are far larger, and it is that much harder for them to get through congested roadways. 

About 20 years ago, when I drove the first ambucycle in Jerusalem, I realized how simple it was to save someone quickly. You don’t need a big ambulance or an even bigger firetruck to rescue someone. You just need to get there quickly and begin medical treatment. This simple idea of getting to the patient faster is beginning to change the world.

In truth, one doesn’t even need an ambucycle; simply having a medically trained first responder located nearby, within walking distance, who knows what to do and has medical equipment with them, is what is really needed to save a life. This is why a nationwide network of volunteer EMTs, paramedics and doctors was created. This was a simple idea, with an operational aspect that took some work. But over time, it has begun to change the world, and often, that is all you need.

When someone sees a problem that they are facing in life, they have a few options. They can let the problem become a stumbling block toward achieving their goals, or they can find a way to solve the problem and achieve their goals.

There is also a third option: The person facing the problem can find a solution to the problem that works and then build a framework that will enable everyone access to it. The people who pick the third path are the ones who go on to change the world. Every significant technological or social revolution began with someone having a simple solution to a problem that seemed unyielding. However, once the solution was employed, the problem began to dissolve.

When I travel internationally and talk about the idea of the ambucycle, people respond and tell me: “Wow, what a genius idea.” I tell them, “It’s not. This is not a genius idea. This is how people deliver pizza quickly.” It’s a simple idea to take something that works from a different area, say pizza delivery, and apply it somewhere else to solve a problem like shortening ambulance response times.

Of course, God is in the details. Not everyone wants to use an ambucycle to save lives, and the tool isn’t appropriate in all places. But the idea of a widespread network of fully trained medical responders is something that can be applied everywhere. Additionally, it will even cut down on municipal costs of sending fire trucks and large ambulances out to every emergency call in which transporting a patient is unnecessary.

In emergencies where transporting the patient is necessary, then the ambulance and fire department will be required, but the first responder at the scene can already be providing life-saving treatment while awaiting the larger vehicle to arrive. This idea has been implemented in close to 20 countries, some directly by United Hatzalah while others have used our model in partnership with us. It is just one of the many simple ideas that are changing the world.

The writer is the father of five children, a social entrepreneur and president and founder of United Hatzalah of Israel, an independent, non-profit, fully volunteer EMS organization that provides fast and free emergency first response throughout Israel.


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