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Image credit: Criticalink

Rahat Hossain: Healthy partnerships

Rahat Hossain: Healthy partnerships

Developing better emergency response services

Image above: Rahat Hossain runs a first aid workshop for Criticalink

Queen’s Young Leader, Rahat Hossain tells Leading Change how his organisation, Criticalink has formed partnerships, and shares his tips on successful partnering.

“In Bangladesh it’s a cultural thing that people think if you are young, you are not that capable,” explains Rahat Hossain. He is talking about how the Queen’s Young Leaders Award gave him “a huge acceptance in society” that he had never had before.

Since winning the award, he says, “A lot of people now come to me where I used to go to other people. They come to me and will be like hey this is the project that I’m doing and I think you would be a valuable partner to work with.”

This has given Criticalink valuable opportunities to develop and expand.


Did you know that:

  • nearly 1.3 million people die in road crashes each year, on average 3,287 deaths a day?
  • in under-resourced countries without formal emergency services, more than 85% of accident victims die before they ever reach the hospital?
  • 2,300 children die every day worldwide from preventable accidents and injuries – about 1 million per year?

To address this, Criticalink teaches first aid, and uses mobile technology and a network of first responders to save lives. 

The service works like this:

  • someone is injured
  • bystanders report the accident through the mobile app or emergency number
  • Criticalink's call centre is alerted and contacts the nearest 'first responders' with the necessary details
  • the first responders come to the scene to provide medical assistance until an ambulance arrives.


However, Rahat explains, “In Bangladesh the ambulances that we use don’t have a paramedic or good equipment.”

What’s more, ambulances are operated by several different companies, who are not co-ordinated. This means it is impossible to know which company has an ambulance close to the scene of the emergency when you call.

To address this problem, Criticalink is now working with ambulance companies on two fronts.

“We have come up with this service which is a mobile application to track down where is the nearest ambulance and when you will actually get it.”

Rahat explains that in Bangladesh ambulances can be stuck in traffic for hours and people die on their way to hospital.

“So now we are teaching volunteers an advanced level of care so they can work part-time or even voluntary working with the ambulance companies. They can actually give treatment to the patients in the ambulance.”

Workshop on first aid for children

Workshop on first aid for children. Image credit: Criticalink

Extending reach

Criticalink teaches first aid for adults and children, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) techniques.

They are expanding this side of their operations by working with more day-care centres, training teachers in CPR and first aid for children, and by working with the social enterprise, YY Goshti.

“They teach local entrepreneurs agriculture or leadership, or how to grow their businesses,” says Rahat, who is now teaching in their centres.

Changing the law

It’s all very well teaching volunteers to save lives and developing technologies to enable to do so. But due to a loophole in the existing laws of Bangladesh, people are reluctant to step in when someone needs help in the street.

Rahat says this is because the police will often accuse those providing assistance of a crime, and the person providing help may be fined or punished.

Unsurprisingly, says Rahat, “It puts people off helping someone in the street. They won’t take the risk.”

To solve this problem, Criticalink has been working with the law firm, Legal Circle.

“We applied and brought a case for coming up with a new act. It’s pending but they’re going through all the procedures on how they can improve the law.”

Criticalink first responders help someone injured in a road accident

Criticalink first responders help someone injured in a road accident. Image credit: Criticalink

This new law will protect citizens who help others from harassment and arrest. Rahat describes it as his “biggest success”.

“Now the law is being drafted with the government and I think in the next budget it will be implemented.”

Pooling resources

Some partnerships are about exchanging skills and knowledge. Others about pooling resources.

Rahat is close to his fellow Bangladeshi Queen’s Young Leaders, including Osama bin Noor who is also based in Dhaka and whose project also involves IT.

Both Rahat and Osama need a developer and a small IT support team to keep their projects running.

“The problem is if you want to hire like a developer in IT, or mobile app developers in global systems, you have to spend a lot of money on them,” says Rahat.

He adds that neither he nor Osama need the team to work on their systems every single day.

“So we were thinking, why not join and make it one team of tech? So that’s how we’re cooperating with each other.”

Criticalink volunteers raising awareness in Dhaka street

Criticalink volunteers raising awareness in Dhaka. Image credit: Criticalink

Partnering up

Rahat says the key to getting people to partner with you is to be very clear about your long-term goals.

“Whenever I go for a pitch, I know exactly what I’m doing with my organisation. I know exactly what I’m doing with my career.”

He explains it’s like asking, “’Do you want to join with me on this journey?’ People buy more into that.”