Author's blurb: When I subscribe to a service, I usually think about how often I'm going to use it in the first place. Of course, an ambulance service might be the last thing on my mind. How many of us had to be taken to hospital in an ambulance at all?
First Assistance is a service from First Ambulance, a private ambulance provider in Malaysia with over 50 years of experience.
First aid saves you from paying expensive one-time fees when calling a private ambulance.
Instead, you only pay a membership fee, which acts like insurance specifically for emergency services.
This service also has two other goals: to get you to the hospital of your choice and as quickly as possible.
Time is of the essence
The First Aid Team / Photo credits: First Aid
The team guarantees they will be at the scene in 15 minutes (although this is currently only for Subang Jaya) and has run some tests to prove they are capable of delivering the fastest ambulance in the area.
"We ran multiple loop tests in the Subang area to ensure our ambulances are within 15 minutes of response time in a variety of traffic scenarios," said Nicholas Chia, Principal Investor of First Ambulance.
“Before we started, we had more than 50 experimenters helping us test our call center and shipping processes, and we were able to achieve a time of 15 minutes on site under normal conditions,” added Steven Penafort, co-founder of First Ambulance.
But what if you already live near a hospital and could get someone in your household to drive you there in 5 minutes? Wouldn't that be better and more efficient?
Nithi Maniam, also one of the company's investors, stated, "With one exception, someone you live with is most likely not receiving medical training to move patients, which can cause further permanent harm to the patient."
"In contrast, our team of trained paramedics would be able to provide adequate pre-hospital care during the 'golden hour' for cases like stroke that can prevent permanent disability," he added.
The first aid team looking after a patient on site / Photo credit: First Aid
All First Assistance paramedics are trained in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS). This means they can run a range of clinical algorithms for the urgent management of cardiac arrest, stroke, heart attack, and other life-threatening cardiovascular emergencies.
This is also reflected in the track record of First Ambulance (and therefore First Assistance).
"Our success rate in providing immediate care to people has been near perfect over the past 20 years," said Nithi.
This, of course, excludes the cases of failure due to patient non-compliance, e.g. B. When impatient people take matters into their own hands while waiting for the ambulance, floods and other external factors beyond their control.
Give patients a choice
The First Aid Fleet / Image Credit: First Aid
Because First Assistance has access to their parent company's fleet of private ambulances, they can take patients to the hospitals of their choice, which is not common with public ambulances.
"The standard operating procedure for public ambulances is to take you to the nearest government hospital rather than the nearest hospital," said Nicholas.
"Sometimes we want a choice and our membership allows you to choose your hospital in the order of your preference," he added.
The first aid teams are also trained to check availability in advance in the emergency room of the hospital you choose.
If emergency rooms are not available, they will be chosen as the second best choice. So of course if you live 5 minutes away you are safer than most who don't.
The team also indicated that older people are at higher risk when it comes to health care and therefore desperately in need of first aid membership.
A medic attending to a patient / Photo credit: First Aid
"We are very aware of this and want to support patients with pre-existing conditions so that we know exactly where to take them and which hospital they are being treated by," said Steven.
This is important because patients with pre-existing medical conditions are usually tied to a hospital under a family doctor, such as an oncologist, who keeps records in all medical records.
In life and death emergencies where choice is not an option to save lives, Steven told us that her goal is to respond first, which means sending a patient to the nearest hospital for treatment .
Aside from the elderly, membership of First Asistance would also benefit middle-class residents who want a choice.
These are people between the ages of 30 and 55 who would like an additional option for the first response to the MERS-999 service, especially if they prefer treatment in a private facility.
According to the team, subscribing to a First Assistance membership can also be more cost effective in the long run, as the breakdown below shows.
|Types of use of ambulances||SOP||costs|
|Free public ambulances||– Takes you to the government hospital
– You cannot choose to go to a private hospital
|– Practically RM0|
|Private ambulance||– The price of the ambulance service will be charged to your final hospital bill||– Patients typically pay RM800-1,000 per year (your health insurance could cover this)|
|First aid paid membership||– Free access to the hotline and the ambulance around the clock||– RM15 / month for individuals (RM180 / year)
– RM60 / month for a family of 5 (RM720 / year)
|First aid free membership||– Free access to the 24-hour hotline for first aid||– Ambulance service will continue to be chargeable, much like private ambulance service in a hospital (your health insurance may cover this).|
Based on the table above, you would benefit most from First Assistance's paid membership if you didn't already have health insurance.
Or maybe you do, but you still want the peace of mind of getting an ambulance within 15 minutes (which general private hospital ambulances may not necessarily be able to achieve).
One of the ambulance's cooperating hospitals / Photo credit: First Aid
So far, the team has been able to cover many emergency missions, run events for large companies like Iron Man competitions, and work for over 55 private hospitals in Malaysia.
"To top it off, we also have the largest fleet of any private ambulance company in Malaysia," added Jeremy.
First Ambulance has a fleet of 39 advanced ambulances in Klang Valley, Terengganu, Johor and Kota Kinabalu that First Assistance can use.
Editor's update: The information in the above paragraph has been edited to be more accurate.
In the short term, the team hopes to raise awareness and gain 10,000 members in the Klangtal in 2020.
In the long term, all urban areas in Malaysia are to be covered. In order to achieve this, they ask people who are outside of Subang Jaya to also register for first aid.
This allows them to collect enough user data to determine the best locations to station their ambulances and scale their fleet.
Bottom line: Getting insurance is something you wouldn't really care about until something terrible happens to you or someone you love. Personally, I think that basic services are already good enough. It is always a good idea to be prepared in case of an emergency, even if you think you don't need it now when you are healthy and able.
- You can register your interest in first aid here.
- You can find more information on other Malaysian startups here.
Feature Image Credit: First Aid