Helpfie Virtual Flag Off

4 min readJan 28, 2021

The Helpfie Virtual flag off event was held on Monday 18th January 2020.

Dr. Amanda Rischbieth, Helpfie Interim Chair and a visiting scientist at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health, kicked off the event with a brief introduction followed by some opening remarks from panelists drawn from the public and private sector. Below is a summary of the panelist remarks:

Victor Maina, Engineer from the Communication Authority (CA) gave a top down overview of emergency services. The CA is intent on making emergency services available to Kenyans including those living with disabilities as evident in the 2019 National ICT Policy. The CA seeks to safeguard Kenya’s critical infrastructure against vandalism and terrorism, through the Critical Infrastructure Bill. The CA manages a Universal Service Fund that has been used to provide voice coverage in underserved/unserved communities identified in the 2016 ICT Access Gap Study. The CA is drafting Consumer Protection guidelines that includes regulations around the provision of emergency services. The CA foresees opportunities for the provision of emergency services via apps and opportunities for various partners to help close out the gaps to improve access to emergency services in territorial waters.

Dr. Joseph Sitienei, Head of the Health Sector Monitoring, Evaluation & Informatics Department at the Ministry of Health, noted that Universal Health coverage (UHC)n is an integral part of the President’s Big Four Agenda. One of the critical drivers for UHC is health digitization especially with increased Internet Subscription rates and the mobile phone uptake among Kenyans. The Ministry is spearheading the creation of a digital health platform to cover Level 1 Community Facilities through Level 6 Referral Facilities. Opportunities through the Health Protection Act to collect health data, move towards big data and use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning. With an overarching health policy of harnessing Information Communication Technology (ICT) for the delivery of healthcare, the Ministry embarked on the creation of a Covid-19 hotline and contact tracing solution, Jitenge in response to the current pandemic. Going forward, the Ministry seeks to harness ICT to increase patient ownership in their Health with learning apps such as Helpfie.

Caitlin Dolkart, Managing Director, a health technology company built and based in Kenya, to address the length of time it takes to get an ambulance through a network of over 500 ambulances across the country with response times down from 162 minutes to 15 minutes. In the last year, completed over 5,000 emergency rescues all in under 15 minutes. By recognizing that in the complete absence of any 911-like infrastructure there is massive opportunity, has created a unified integrated ambulance system with a vision that no matter who you are or where you are, you should have access to emergency care in minutes. The Flare application enables emergency responders to quickly get to the scene, find the patient, share critical patient data in a timely manner and optimize the route taken based on traffic.

Scott Neal, VP-Director Wireless Systems, at Mission Critical Partners, a public safety communications consulting firm based in the US, that works with first responders to help with their communication needs. It always comes down to the network for emergency response. Public safety in the US faced challenges with bandwidth and throughput. That changed when the First Responders Network Authority and the US Federal Government rolled out the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network that gave public safety priority access to their data needs. The Public Safety Broadband Network is currently undergoing a transition upgrade from 4G to 5G. 5G technology promises to be a real game changer by significantly increasing speeds, enabling Internet of Things (IoT) devices that can transmit valuable information to first responders and increasing response times to get people the help they need much quicker among other gains. AI applications will need to ride on these networks to parse through the data, to make it actionable for public safety to work with. As we look to leverage IoT devices over 5G networks, we will need to address threats for increased vulnerability of cyber attacks and cyber security breaches

New and innovative technologies are required to address the gaps in bystander preparedness and promote adherence to prehospital care protocols among emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics. Helpfie is harnessing the power of technology to improve pre-hospital care with easy-to-follow bystander first aid and pre-hospital protocol checklist resources. Helpfie’s easy to follow conversational guidance provides first aid steps that match the local context. Location services help track down safety resources and hospitals within close proximity. Helpfie strengthens ambulance coordination and expedites the rescue process. Helpfie’s list of on-demand topics is growing and all core modules are available for offline review. Helpfie seeks to equip the lay public with life saving skills and serves as a handy checklist for prehospital care protocols.

Mahmoud Noor, Executive Director Swahilipot Hub and Member of the Kenya Covid-19 ICT Advisory Commitee flagged off the Helpfie membership subscriptions website and called upon the public to subscribe and learn first aid.

Onboarding as a new member is fairly easy. Simply go to Hit get access to complete membership subscription (along with an optional Ambulance add on). You’ll receive a link to install the app along with an access code to use the app.