Let’s Begin At The Very Beginning
Cardiac Arrest Victims Fair Poorly Due To Prolonged Downtime
For many years, I realised that many cardiac arrest patients that arrived at the Emergency Department had a an unnecessarily long “downtime”, the time between collapse and someone starting CPR or using an AED. This prolonged downtime resulted in death or very poor neurological outcome for survivors. I was not alone in this awakening. Many critical care specialists felt the same. One of them, Professor Marcus Ong, felt so strongly about it he asked me to helm a programme called DARE. Under his expert guidance and with the support of a multi-ministry team including MOH, MHA, MOE and MOM, we managed to educate bystanders how to do CPR and use an AED in the community, school and work setting.
Connecting With The Community
In 2018, we commissioned a team to develop the DARE application, that was free to download on Android and IOS. It was our dream come true: Dare To Save A Life . It served to teach people the basics of the DARE programme, guided them to the closest AED to them on the map, and allowed them to book themselves in for classes at community centres. There were often updates from the international news and local blogs about the community of bystander life-savers.
We did so well that I even presented our digital journey at international conferences. One particularly memorable platform was the United Nations Economic and Social Commission of Asia Pacific headquarters.
How Our Raison D’Etre Evolved Since The Beginning
So things worked out phenomenally well in the first month. We had tens of thousands of subscribers. People were trying out the quizzes, signing up for mass training courses. I thought there would be an upward trajectory of engagement. However, I was wrong.
I didn’t have to energy to drive as many engaging updates as I would’ve liked. The Covid pandemic also rendered mass training difficult.
Here are 5 alternatives to using our app:
- Instead of using the app tutorials to learn CPR… How about actually attending a DARE programme? It’s only an hour long and we can customise it to your group size and location. All you need to to bring are willing minds and willing hearts. We bring the curriculum, equipment and the confidence to answer your burning questions. It’s only a hour and it’s free. Since this is a skills-based course it makes sense to do it in person instead of virtually.
- Instead of using the app to book a DARE course at your community centre… Just drop our team an email. We’ll organise something appropriate for the safety restrictions.
- Instead of using the app to locate AEDs… Download the MyResponder app developed by the SCDF to do the same job. With the MyResponder app you can also respond to real incidents as you’ll be notified by the SCDF when someone within a walking radius of you has collapsed.
- Instead of using the app to get news updates… Follow our Facebook page, which is the most active social media platform at the moment for the team. Or go to our new DARE website, https://site.daretosave.sg .
- Instead of using the app to ask the administrators questions… Drop us a DM on our Dispatcher-Assisted First Responder official Facebook page or send us an email. Our email is email@example.com and for your information, UPEC stands for Unit for Pre-hospital Emergency Care, under the Ministry of Health.
The reality of it is, our engagement did not skyrocket. Furthermore, many uses of the app were one-and-done deals and people would stop using the app after learning DARE virtually or signing up with a community centre. The engagement on the app dipped lower and lower. AEDs started being installed island-wide and the AED signages were so good people didn’t need the app to show them the way.
In addition, importantly, the new personal data protection laws suggested we shouldn’t collect personal data on signing in. However this had been the mainstay of ensuring participants were serious about their learning and not masquerading under the guise of Donald Duck. As the years go along, circumstances change. What was previously acceptable, was now abhorred.
After a long period of deliberation, we decided to decommission the app.
What Lies Ahead
Things ran their course in the beginning for a reason but we cannot keep looking back.
Currently we are focused on putting on the educational assets up on our website, with clear instructions on how to contact us or make course bookings. We are also going to decommission the DARE app at the end of September. It might be a minor affair for many people who are in the technology industry since the lifespan of many apps is about 5 years anyway before they need a major revamp.
I am so grateful for the friends we made through creating the app, for the community we built with it, and for the helming this project. To put things in perspective, the DARE programme is still alive and well. It is just the platform to deliver education and provide a service to our community that is being decommissioned so we can do something better.
Let’s take the lessons from the past, acknowledge the unique climate of the present moment, and move into the future.