There's been an incredible amount of entrants into the Code4Impact grand prize competition. And one that stands out is Heartfleet, who rocked AngelHack Manhattan and are in the running for entrance into the HACKcelerator program this fall. Let's meet them!
Your project, HeartFleet, provides Emergency AED delivery on demand. Can you tell us where your idea came from?
The idea of humans being callable through an API is super cool, so when our team heard that the Postmates API enabled point-to-point delivery in NYC, we immediately started thinking about different things to deliver. We had a few ideas, but the frighteningly slow 12 minute average response time for ambulances in NYC made us focus on emergency response. Once Kim pointed out that we could do a skit to deliver an AED during the demo, the idea really started to come together.
Heartfleet is a tool that allows 911 dispatchers to send the nearest AED to a victim of sudden cardiac arrest along with the usual ambulance response. By New York law, all places of public assembly, including health clubs and schools, must have one of these life-saving devices on the premises. This means AEDs are often nearer to a victim than an ambulance, and we hope to increase someone’s chance of survival when every minute counts.
Was this the original idea, or did you guys pivot at some point during the hackathon?
We had the general idea to deliver AEDs via Postmates going into the hackathon, but figured out all of the details, including the tech stack, at the event. Initially we were planning on building everything on the client, but after running into some issues with cross-origin API calls (CORS) we added an express server.
Can you tell us how the team formed? Did you all know each other prior to the event?
A few months ago, Henry, Max, and Carrie worked together on a project at the Audible Hackathon. Since then, we'd been itching to work on another project together, and were lucky enough to have Kim, a long-time friend join us this time.
Before we get back to the project, tell us about the actual event. You guys were at AngelHack Manhattan. How was it? Tell us your favorite parts!
Despite being a competitive event, attendees from different teams are always willing to collaborate and help each other. No one on our team had ever worked with Twilio before, but before we had struggled too long, another hackathon participant with experience using their API assisted us. It wasn't long before they'd spotted our problem, helped us patch it, and our conversation turned to Starcraft. Beyond the mad coding, the late night conversations are some of the best parts of the hackathon.
In your mind, what one thing does every hackathon need to make it a successful event?
The knowledgeable vendors are an amazing resource for getting up and running with an unfamiliar API in no time. Ultimately though, it's coffee and carbs that make 24 hours of straight hacking possible.
We’ve talked about the inspiration, can you tell us a little bit more about the tech? What APIs did you guys use?
We wanted to make it as fast as possible for the dispatcher to choose an AED to send, so our interface is dominated by a dark-themed map courtesy of ESRI. Once the operator selects a specific AED, we use an Express server to place a delivery request through Postmates. With help on the way, we then use Twilio to send a text message to the 911 caller so that, in the event they're not alone, there is another chance to get a life-saving AED in time.
What are your future plans with the project?
We’ve always envisioned Heartfleet as a tool for 911 dispatchers, so in order to save lives, we’ll need to integrate smoothly into the workflow of the existing emergency dispatch system. Since the Hackathon, we’ve reached out to the hospitals division of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) to learn more.
Heartfleet will inevitably work best in urban centers where there is a higher probability an AED will be nearby, but the very best markets will be a function of state laws and regulations. We had a great time working together and look forward to teaming up again in the future.