U of A students and former state trooper team up to save lives

U of A students and former state trooper team up to save lives

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Students at the University of Arizona are teaming up with a former state trooper to develop a service meant to help people in need and the first responders who care for them during an emergency.

VIJILIS is designed to coordinate resources and service providers during an emergency, to clear the scene of a crash or other emergency more quickly, in hopes of reducing the chance of a secondary crash.

Jim Messerly, the founder of VIJILIS, worked for Arizona Department of Public Safety's State Highway Patrol for 31 years. He said an initial use and first example of the software's potential is clearing the scene of a crash or other roadside emergency.

"I've lost a lot of my peers through secondary collisions, while they were managing a traffic incident," he said.

His plan is to have those first responders track down the nearest tow truck through VIJILIS. The sooner the area is clear, the safer everyone will be, according to Messerly.

"My goal is to save the lives of those first responders," he said. "My goal is to protect families that are out there."

He's turned to the UA College of Engineering Design Program, which connects students with companies, governments or even individuals.

A group of five seniors with various engineering specializations signed on to turn the idea of VIJILIS into a usable software.

"I felt like this project had the potential to have a really large impact," said Systems Engineering senior Kendall Stokes.

She said other opportunities through the design program focused on very specific aspects of her education, but VIJILIS provides a major encompassing experience that will encourage creativity.

It would be great to see a VIJILIS app one day, but Stokes said she's focused right now on creating a software that works and can be a model for other agencies.

"I think it'll be exciting for different individuals to have kind of a hand in it all," she said.

Messerly said he hopes the partnership with the U of A can help VIJILIS can traction in Arizona and eventually all over the United States for large-scale emergencies and disaster response.

"Once Arizona perfects this, through this university endeavor, it's going to become a template for other states to follow and eventually become a national program," he said.

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