Two years ago, Puthvibol Vathana witnessed a traffic accident on a street in Phnom Penh. He helped the victim to safety but could only wait in horrible suspense for an ambulance to arrive.
“No different from what others would do, I just helped carry him aside and waited for the authorities to call an ambulance,” says Vathana, 24. The victim did not survive.
Since that night, he’s often worried that he could be the next victim because traffic accidents are a daily occurrence in Cambodia and injured victims are often left unattended for too long.
To help solve this issue, Vathana developed Chuoy App (Help).
Based on a six-month survey of 100 people chosen at random, he found that most people did not know how to contact an ambulance and were afraid to conduct first aid on victims.
Vathana, a doctorate student at the Health Science Institute who has a master’s degree in public health from the National Institute Of Public Health, created the app with friends who work in marketing and information technology.
“The fatality rate of traffic accidents is higher than that of infectious diseases in our country. At least five people die on the streets daily.
“They need to be sent to the right hospitals which can provide sufficient and timely care. Sometimes they [victims] were sent far and ended up in a clinic without enough materials,” Vathana says
Since most people dare not help injured victims themselves because they don’t have first-aid training, Vathana says he felt compelled to create a solution.
He wanted to increase public trust in emergency services and help ambulance drivers reach the scene faster.
Anyone can download Chuoy App and create an account. If someone witnesses an accident, they can use the app to direct an ambulance to the scene.
“Everyone can help and show their humanity by helping people injured in accidents with Chuoy App. It shows the location of the victim,” says Vathana, who also participates in a UN Volunteers Pilot Programme in Kampong Thom province.
Besides alerting ambulances to the scene of an accident, Chuoy App provides various choices for people to send victims to the nearest hospital which has emergency services and high-quality treatment.
“Users can track the ambulance and access emergency contact numbers of the victim’s family. The app also provides useful information and news about health issues.”
Vathana says the app displays the fastest route to the nearest hospital and highlights the safest roads to drive on. It encourages people who witness accidents to help victims and makes it easier for drivers to locate victims.
Chuoy App is designed to be used by victims, passersby and emergency drivers.
The hospital’s ambulance drivers use a different version of the app which allows them to access the victim’s details.
“Those injured in traffic accidents can use Chuoy App to find a hospital or clinic which offers standard services and is close to the scene. They can share their location with ambulance drivers. But if they are unconscious, they need passersby to help,” Vathana says.
After receiving contact from an injured person or a passerby, the driver knows where to go and can follow the app’s instructions to avoid traffic.
“The special version of the app allows hospitals and drivers to view a victim’ health history, medical anaphylaxis issues and family emergency contacts,” says Vathana.
Along with developing Chuoy App, this young doctor-to-be and his two friends are looking for partners. They are hoping to team up with public hospitals, private clinics and insurance companies to ensure the app works smoothly.
“Chuoy App is facing some obstacles such as seeking partners, raising funds in competitions and performing the production and testing stages before it can be used in public.
“I need partners who can provide quality emergency services with standard costs. We need support from 119,” he says.
Aside from studying for his medical degree, Vathana is solely focusing on this project and is now taking part in a competition to help raise funds to further develop the app.
“I know that this project is a challenge and there will be barriers. But in the name of young Cambodian people, I am trying my best to help better emergency services and gain people’s confidence,” he says.
“It is the first app of its kind, so it is hard, but we have to move forward. When this app works well, we will add more functions to it.”