More than 240 million calls are placed to 911 each year in the United States alone- 240 million instances in which a first responder can be emotionally and/or physically injured. Firefighters, Police Officers, Emergency Medical Technicians, Corrections Officers, and Dispatchers often find themselves injured and traumatized. As a result, they find that they too need help seeking – someone who understands, won’t view them as weak or incapable, and who knows how to get them what they need quietly and anonymously. 1stAlliance is a 501(c)3 charitable organization whose sole mission is to provide a way for first responders to make their way out of depression and treat post-traumatic stress – all by applying a simple concept – a central database that can point everyone in the right direction and doesn’t store or share any of their information.
1st Alliance approached AVATAR with a long term goal of developing a free, downloadable mobile application and a short term goal to launch an online system that can be put into place quickly. AVATAR was challenged to keep the existing database of organizations in the familiar place of 1Alliance.org while allowing first responders in need to access the data across domains on 1stHelp.net. AVATAR created a MYSQL database on the 1stHelp.net domain that stored that data, while the organizational inclusion form remained in the same familiar spot on the 1alliance.org site. Using PHP, AVATAR developed a series of nested queries, and a responsive web form that created a seamless user experience for first responders. A responsive application was built using PHP in conjunction with Bootstrap allowing users from all over the world to seek help from any device by answering a series of seven simple questions. In return, the user is presented with a list of companies populated within the system that can service their specific needs. The idea is to connect first responders in need of help with the companies that can help them.
AVATAR designed and developed a freestanding form page, built to aesthetically work in a fashion that quickly and clearly provides information that is curated and filtered by location. The web-friendly display is both mobile-responsive and printable. The design was coordinated and influenced by the already running 1alliance.org website, equipping it with the capability to securely pass data elements between the two instances. To support these efforts, AVATAR also developed a database that refines and solidifies the information being populated and end user query in a secure environment.
AVATAR helped 1st Alliance launch the 1st Help App in June of 2016, a free online application containing a searchable database dedicated to finding emotional, financial, and spiritual assistance for First Responders. Since the launch, the database has nearly 100 vetted resources in the United States, Canada, and Australia on the site – a number anticipated to quickly reach the 1000s. In addition to assisting First Responders in anonymously finding crisis specific help, it’s design enables 1st Alliance to collect data on suicide and traumatic-stress events. During the second phase of this web development project, the capability to gather and collect the data on suicide and PTSD will be available to raise awareness, save lives, and improve the quality of life for First Responders.
The service is presently available on a mobile-friendly website, but with the help of AVATAR, 1st Alliance will be engaging in a second phase, offering the service on a downloadable mobile application. Future plans include setting up private forums for the providers so they are able to exchange ideas and best practices. This app has quietly gain momentum within the fields, with several news articles spotlighting the project and funding pouring in from Massachusetts law enforcement associations, First Responder non-profit groups, and private donations. With the continued support of AVATAR, 1st Alliance intends to keep re-inventing the wheel for our heroes, pooling resources quickly and effectively.