Offering life-saving ambulance services for Kenyans country-wide
Winner of the Bayer Foundation’s Women Empowerment Award Caitlin Dolkart is the co-founder of Flare, a subscription-based emergency-response platform, ensuring life-saving ambulance services for Kenyans all over the country. “Thanks to our platform, we have brought down the response time to 18 minutes, country wide,” Caitlin Dolkart states in an interview with The Bayer Foundation.
Women Empowerment Award Winner
Whether you are based in the US or in Europe; when a medical emergency strikes, your first reaction is to call an ambulance. In Kenya, where health entrepreneur Caitlin Dolkart has been working living since 2011, however, that simply wasn’t an option for a long time. With no centralized emergency number to call, anxious relatives and patients had to go through numbers for local ambulance providers, or, more likely, go to the nearest hospital themselves. “The average response time in Nairobi is 162 minutes. In comparison, in New York this is only 18 minutes. The first hour, dubbed the “golden hour” of care, can make all the difference, the outcome for most can be the difference between life and death,” Caitlin explains.
Caitlin and her co-founder Maria Rabinovich launched Flare in 2018. Both have been working in the health care and tech industry in East Africa for years. “When we talk about the health care system in Kenya, it is easy to focus on the problems; the lack of doctors; the lack of services, of hospitals. Maria and I wanted to turn around the conversation by concentrating on the resources that we could leverage.” After several years working with the Clinton Health Initiative across East Africa, Caitlin saw the opportunity to build emergency services to drive healthcare forward. “We knew that there were hundreds of ambulances operating across the country; but they needed to get organized. I heard so many tragic stories of people who died on the road, because the medical services couldn’t reach them on time. In order to really understand why there was such a mismatch between supply and demand, I sat in an ambulance for weeks. One of the observations I made, was that ambulance drivers often struggled to find the exact location of the patients, which was one of the first things I wanted to get solved.”
Dubbed “Uber for ambulances” in many newspapers, Flare works with a similar concept but an in-house and incredibly intelligent end-to-end computer aided dispatch system that manages an emergency from start to finish. To access its platform, users subscribe to an annual membership on Rescue.co, offering services to families, schools, companies and individuals. When you become a member, you will have 24/7 access to a fleet of 600 ambulances. The Flare team is made up of both medical dispatchers and software engineers. “Thanks to our platform, we have brought down the response time to 18 minutes, country wide. In comparison, previously it would take more than a day for an ambulance to arrive in a remote area,” Caitlin adds.
Caitlin has plans to roll out Flare’s services in other East African nations, bringing timely emergency response to increasing numbers of people in need across the region. “In addition, Flare is built for first responders of any kind. Whether you are an ambulance driver, security officer, towing provider or a fire fighter, our technology brings together first responder services with those in need. For firefighting, this means that we can coordinate fire responders along-side available water sources for more effective fire rescues. Or for road accidents, we can provide an ambulance and towing response.”
With support from the Women Empowerment Award’s cash prize, Caitlin Dolkart will continue to focus on building out the number of emergency services they can offer through Flare. “We want to integrate the full suite of emergency services. For example, we are looking into air evacuations, which will bring patients who need more specialized care (such as cardiology in case of a heart attack) to the nearest medical facility. In addition, winning the Women Empowerment Award will also help to further raise awareness for our brand. It’s great to have the momentum that comes with winning an international award,” the entrepreneur concludes.