NCA Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Can you imagine not being able to get a sick family member or a loved one the right medical treatment or for that family member to wait for hours for transportation to arrive because their ambulance was diverted to a 911 call? With two decades as paramedics, Elena Whorton and her business partner Mike Sechrist believed they could make a difference.
Without any formal business background or education, after obtaining $100,000 in seed money, the two started ProTransport-1 in 2000 with Sechrist as CEO and Whorton as president.
Traditional ambulance operating companies mostly only respond to dispatch requests from 911. As a result, many patients with non-emergency medical situations can be deprived of a timely response, not to mention a “human touch” toward caregiving.
Today, the company is a leading inter-facility transportation for non-emergency patients, and works to improve patient experiences and hospital bed monitoring systems. It employs 700 people with a fleet of 120 fully-medically equipped ambulances across California.
The two helped create a new industry that is now worth $15 billion. Hospitals were very much in need for this type of transport and a massive influx of players entered the market.
The key distinguishing factor of ProTransport-1 is its outstanding customer service. During the on-boarding process, employees are not only rigorously trained to handle emergency medical situations but also are provided sound guidance on how to treat all patients with genuine care. For example, each employee is given a $50 annual allowance should they want to purchase gifts for the patients, many of whom are elderly with no family.
The 15-minute ambulance ride for some senior customers is often the most enjoyable part of their day. Wharton encourages her employees to listen and share their stories in an employee newsletter she is launching.
Wharton and Sechrist also realized emergency medical technicians rarely receive feedback from those they save, so they established a mechanism to allow this.
How to reach: ProTransport-1, www.protransport-1.com