Jack Finkelstein ’84 developed an app that could save your life – SmartEMS. As a NYC paramedic, he saw the need to modernize the EMS system, creating a faster, safer way to connect and save patients. A Brooklyn, NY based company, SmartEMS allows smartphone users to contact an ambulance with state certified emergency EMT’s and paramedics at the touch of a screen. Learn more about Jack’s story and why he created the SmartEMS app below.
Tell us about yourself, Jack!
I have been involved with emergency medical services for 37 years as an emergency medical technician (EMT), paramedic, instructor, director, coordinator, consultant, and now app developer.
In a nutshell, what do you do?
I am the creator and Director of Operations for the app SmartEMS. I am a professor at two colleges – Kingsborough Community College where I teach paramedic classes and at the Metropolitan College of New York Graduate Program in disaster and emergency management. I am a consultant for three different companies, for which I have worked locally and abroad at various countries for EMS and emergency management related work. I am also an instructor for the NYS Department of Health, the NY Safety Program (defensive driving), OSHA, and Regional Faculty for the American Heart Association where I teach CPR, first aid, BLS, ACLS, and PALS courses, etc. I recently left my position at Wyckoff Hospital as the Director of EMS, Emergency Manager, Incident Commander, Emergency Department Administrator and Coordinator of the Training Center to take on the task with SmartEMS.
Speaking of the SmartEMS App, what is it?
This new app is revolutionary! SmartEMS streamlines the entire EMS operations in several ways. It is currently operational in NYC and soon to spread to other areas. It is a free app that individuals can download, enter their medical information ahead of time such as their allergies, medications, medical history, emergency contacts, insurance information and hospital of choice.
When a client needs an ambulance, they press the large red button on the app, and our dispatch center is immediately notified. The call is then assigned to the closest available unit. That unit will receive the data patients entered during their registration, so they can concentrate on treating the patient rather than the time that is spent on information gathering. The crew will also be given the GPS location so they can follow instructions to the fastest, most direct route to the patient. The patient will have their emergency contacts (spouse, children, physician, etc.) notified immediately via text and email when the client summons an ambulance, when the ambulance arrives to pick up the client, and when the ambulance arrives at the hospital with the patient. The patient will also view the GPS mapping of the ambulance responding with updated ETA every 30 seconds on their phone. The patient will have the option of going to the hospital of their choice, within reason and within established protocols.
Why did you create the SmartEMS app?
Having worked in EMS for over 37 years, I have been able to see where the EMS system needed improvement to streamline the emergency response process and bring EMS to the 21st century. So, I did something about it. We had the idea, technology and capability, but we needed financial and technological backing. After speaking with a few investors, we got the funding we needed to launch the program in NYC which will help revolutionize how we respond to emergency calls all over the world.
You are an EMS graduate of DU – do you feel like your education prepared you for your journey as a paramedic, professor and now app developer?
I certainly do feel that my time at Davenport helped me with my knowledge and career, and it was a great education at a great institution. The classes were small, the professors were caring and helpful and I truly loved my time there.
I often speak of Davenport to my colleagues and how it was one of the best investments I ever made in my career. Shortly after graduating, I launched my own EMS-related business and traveled all around the country and attended numerous trade shows helping countless job seekers in the field of EMS, fire, and law enforcement.
What do you do when you are not working?
Work some more! I am so busy, that I actually turn down a lot of work. Sundays are my only day off, and yet I pick up some extra teaching or consulting work because the demand is high. I recently returned from a trip to Barcelona, Spain, where I was teaching EMS related issues such as triage, trauma, incident command, PALS and ACLS skills to their EMS technicians.