SMS Saves Congolese Boy

The latest story of SMS saving lives is the most heartwrenching yet.

In the Congo, Medicins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders) received a 16-year-old patient whose arm had been destroyed when he got caught in the crossfire between Congolese and rebel soldiers. His initial amputation resulted in gangrene. Dr. David Nott realized that in order for the boy to live, he would need to perform an operation that involved removing the patient’s collar bone and shoulder blade. The procedure is risky enough when performed in the most advanced environment by an experienced surgeon–but Dr. Nott, stuck in a war-torn developing country, had never performed it. So the physician texted a colleague back in London, who in turn sent two “very long” SMS messages explaining how to do the operation.

Dr. Nott (in the picture, at right) isn’t the first person I’ve written about who has saved lives with the help of SMS. In August an Irish air traffic controller sent text messages to a pilot whose communication systems were down, containing instructions to guide the aircraft in. That same month a plane crash survivor sent a stream of SMS messages to a friend, which helped rescuers locate him.

These stories might not directly have a connection with marketing. However, they prove time and again that SMS is one of the best ways to reach people, even those halfway across the world or in an area with few technological advances. If the platform is reliable for the most urgent of times, it’s good enough for marketers who want to send time-sensitive information for people who wish to receive it.

 

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