Nzuza's app puts ambulance a tap of a screen away

Blessing Nzuza with his ambulance app. Shelley Kjonstad African News Agency (ANA)

Blessing Nzuza with his ambulance app. Shelley Kjonstad African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jan 11, 2020


Durban - Blessing Nzuza believes e-hailing an ambulance will help save lives at the tap of a screen.

The 29-year-old from Eshowe started working on the Respo app about a year ago and now he’s confident it is ready to change the emergency medical services.

Five emergency service providers have signed up with him.

Respo aims to reduce the time it takes for an ambulance to reach a patient during medical emergencies.

Users register by recording their personal details such as their name and surname, contact details and those of their spouse, and medical aid details.

“Life-threatening emergencies such as heart attacks, severe bleeding and accidents are already uploaded so the user doesn’t have to type those in, they can just select one and indicate whether it’s for them, a family member or someone else,” Nzuza said.

He added that when required, the user could select the closest emergency vehicle and the information would be sent, including the location of the person calling for help.

Nzuza said he had never done computer or IT-related studies; he studied civil engineering for a year at DUT and dropped out. He taught himself how to develop an app because he felt the pressure to put food on the table.

The idea for the Respo app was sparked when he was walking at the beach and someone had been stabbed and was bleeding severely. Bystanders told him they had been waiting for an ambulance for more than 30 minutes.

“The hospital was only 1km from the incident but still no ambulance showed up. We resorted to calling an Uber, but the driver was reluctant to take in someone in that state. He was paid extra money, and the seats were covered with plastic; that’s when he agreed to take the guy to hospital.” Nzuza said the issue was not ambulances not being available, but where a person could find one closest to them. He believes the app will simplify the work of the emergency call centre, making it faster for them to dispatch ambulances to exact locations.

So far only private ambulances are listed on the Respo app. Nzuza’s goal this year is to get the government involved. He said he also wanted to include government ambulances on the app to cater for people who did not have medical aid or money to pay for the services.

He also hopes to work with big private emergency service providers, such as NetCare and ER24.

Netcare spokesperson Shawn Herbst said in an emergency, they treated anyone, regardless of whether they had medical aid or not.

ER24’s spokesperson Russell Meiring echoed this, saying everyone had a right to emergency medical care. “When we get to an accident scene, we just treat the patient, forms of payment are discussed later.”

The Respo app is available at the Google Play store and Apple App Store.

Independent On Saturday

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