John Oliver: Millions Hear Your Call — Together We Will Solve this Challenge

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Tonight, on HBO’s Last Week Tonight, John Oliver expressed his frustration with the current state of our nation’s 9-1-1 infrastructure. During his 15-minute main segment, over 5,200 Americans called 9-1-1 for help from cell phones:

As thousands of Americans sent selfies to each other – a 9-1-1 telecommunicator successfully taught a new father to deliver a baby – despite having no view of what was actually occurring on the other side of the line…

As millions of text messages were sent during the segment, a woman whispered over the phone to a 9-1-1 telecommunicator, praying an abusive husband would not overhear her say he had a gun…

As a father followed Google Maps’ suggestion to take a side street on his way home in LA, another father tried desperately to explain where exactly he was located after his van swerved off the road headed home from a family camping trip in California…

As a woman enjoyed the last sip of her coffee as she watched on a map as her Uber pulled up to take her home, another woman begged to know how much longer until an ambulance arrived as her child struggled to breathe…

While we sat at home enjoying a little TV on a Sunday evening, over 20,000 public safety officials calmly managed some of the most difficult situations on the planet. No video, no medical information, no images, no text messages, and only an estimate of location was available to help them in most parts of the country. These men and women are absolute heroes, and thousands of lives will be saved tonight because of their dedication despite the antiquated infrastructure in which they are forced to operate.

Both of my parents can count themselves as those saved by these heroes despite this dated infrastructure. Their stories and my own experiences led me to found RapidSOS over three years ago with the singular mission of leveraging every ounce of modern technology when someone’s life is on the line. Over the past three years, thousands of industry experts, 9-1-1 telecommunicators, and public safety heroes have joined 25 of our nation’s brightest engineers trained at MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Microsoft, Oracle, Argonne & Oak Ridge National Labs to share this mission.

Tens of thousands of interviews and phone conversations later, millions of lines of code, dozens of focus groups with 9-1-1 telecommunicators and 9-1-1 super users, millions of investment from top investors and technologists, 4,000+ law enforcement beta users, and millions of test calls across the United States—we are on the verge of a transformation in technology for emergency services.

Mr. Oliver, I share your frustration but am inspired by the dedication and commitment of the entire public safety community to solve this challenge. We are on the cusp of transforming millions of emergency calls annually. Our technology is ready, and we are excited to get it in your hands.

Let’s do this!

Michael Martin
CEO