This app may save your life

The CriticaLink mobile app lets users alert first responders about emergencies as they occur, saving critical time and getting medical help to those in need. (© AP Images)

Jennifer Farrell, a fourth-year Tulane University medical student, is interested in trauma surgery and “passionate about global health.” Even before studying medicine, Farrell had taught lifesaving medical skills to thousands of first responders in the U.S. and South Africa.

In 2012, Farrell traveled to Bangladesh, a country where many injured people die before they reach a hospital. She realized that many lives could be saved by responders dispatched quickly to accident scenes.

A year later, Farrell traveled again to Bangladesh, this time on a Fulbright Fellowship. She and her local partners launched CriticaLink, a nonprofit that by the end of 2014 had trained 150 volunteers in first-responder skills such as triaging, moving patients, burn care and CPR.

Jennifer Farrell, right (Courtesy of Jennifer Farrell)

With help from a local telecom, CriticaLink also released an app that allows mobile users to alert first responders about an accident and provide the location and other relevant information. The alert is designed to trigger a response by trained volunteers closest to the scene of the accident.

“We hope we can get care to people within minutes, even in a city like Dhaka, where traffic is severe,” Farrell said in a presentation on

For the first responders, crowd control proved an unexpected challenge. But they soon learned to ask bystanders for help: for example, having them call the police or flag down an ambulance.

Once a pilot project demonstrates CriticaLink’s feasibility, Farrell hopes to take the concept to other cities and then to other parts of the world. It “can be implemented anywhere, fairly cheaply, fairly quickly,” she told the Dhaka Tribune in December.

The Fulbright Program is an educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.