Local Nonprofit Recognized By Tech Giants

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Telemedicine allows people who cannot get to a specialist, to be seen by that doctor via satellite uplink.

Humanitarian Emergency Logistics and Preparedness (HELP) has been using telemedicine technology since 2004 to render medical aid to disaster victims in India, Thailand, Africa and the United States.

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HELP's Telemedicine Mobile Clinic Network project was selected by the Net Squared competition as one of 21 winning projects out of over 150 submitted from around the globe. HELP is a Payson-based nonprofit.

Now, with HELP's recent win of the "Net Squared" competition, sponsored by tech giants Cisco, Microsoft, Symantec and Yahoo. Through this award, HELP will take telemedical aid one step further -- by bringing it home to financial supporters.

Randy Roberson, president of HELP and Alan Michels, board member and lead physician, are being flown to Silicon Valley this month to meet with representatives of leading corporations and foundations with the promise of assisting HELP to complete their Telemedicine Mobile Clinic Network project.

"When there are no other physicians or emergency facilities around, it is amazing what having a team of doctors looking over your shoulder via satellite can help emergency responders to accomplish," Roberson said.

Michels is no stranger to telemedicine, having engineered telemedicine design concepts since the early 1990s when the name "telemedicine" had yet-to-be uttered. Prior to achieving his MD, Michels was a biomedical engineer.

HELP has been organizing a secure global network of physician specialists, hospitals and other resources all tied together as a community over the Internet.

Their goal has been to enable disaster response teams in a mass casualty zone -- with the help of small portable satellite communications gear -- to have leading experts volunteering to assist them in treating survivors.

The new network will continue to bring medical assistance and, Roberson hopes, advanced training personnel into the field.

No mere Web site redesign, the project will allow donors to log on to HELP's site, see a list of expense needs and designate their contribution to be used for specific purposes, such as mobile medical clinics, water purification, food distribution, shelter and relief camp programs in disaster areas.

"Our vision since the start was to be able to show our supporters exactly how every penny is spent," Roberson said. "Although we still need more assistance, we strive to having our modest operational overhead covered by foundation and designated private support. We want to structure the entire network so when we appeal to the public for support for a specific disaster, 100 percent of the funds raised will go directly to that disaster with nothing being deducted, period."

The group also plans to provide limited pre-scheduled access for donors to log on and see, hear and interact with personnel working on site in these various humanitarian crisis locations.

"Our goal is to provide increased emergency capabilities to our mobile medical clinics while also providing unprecedented transparency, accountability and access to our donors," Roberson said. "We believe this will change the face of philanthropy for humanitarian aid."

More information can be found at HELP's current Web site (soon to be redesigned) www.disasterlogistics.org.

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