Cedar Rapids first aid company Think Safe aims to 'make minutes matter'

Think Safe offers training, develops software

The FirstVoice emergency instruction device offers support for emergency response before the arrival of emergency person
The FirstVoice emergency instruction device offers support for emergency response before the arrival of emergency personnel. The icons are color-coded to the kit bag, broken down into type of medical emergency. Photographed at ThinkSafe in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — As president and CEO of Think Safe, with headquarters in Cedar Rapids, Paula Wickham and her staff work to “make minutes matter” for those facing an emergency situation.

“We stick to that mission because after you call 911, there are small things you can do that make a difference if you take a little ownership,” Wickham said. “You don’t have to be an advanced care provider to do some basic things that will truly save lives.”

Think Safe is a manufacturer, developer and integrator in the first aid industry. Think Safe technology includes patented products such as the Emergency Instruction Device and Self-contained Emergency Treatment Systems.

The company also is a software developer for first aid technology, with more than 20 software programs to aid access to training or treatment instructions and ensure proper first aid or emergency equipment upkeep

They mostly sell to other business customers and schools, Wickham said. They have clients all across the United States and in 23 countries.

Today, Think Safe also is pioneering technology that will dramatically affect the way individuals hear about and respond to various emergency situations. EMMA — or Emergency Management Mobile Applications — is new technology that empowers bystanders and incident managers to provide improved, real-time communication and basic assistance in an emergency situation before the arrival of trained first responders.

“EMMA is very disruptive to the market in terms of pre-911 communication,” Wickham said of the first-of-its-kind push notification technology. “It allows you to have feeds of information coming to you without having to panic.


“We need really good communication for medical and non-medical emergencies and this app is a game changer.”

EMMA, which has been in beta testing for the past three years, can use geo-fencing — a technology not yet being widely used — to send specific messages to select areas.

“It also allows you to set up groups of people to communicate with in case of an emergency,” Wickham added. “We have managed to build the first system to self-sufficiently communicate with 911 and an internal network. It can send millions of messages in milliseconds. It is powerful as a personal safety tool as well.

“You could have your family of five on it no matter (what) their current location. You could check on them in the event of a disaster.”

Wickham said EMMA provides a huge market opportunity for Think Safe and is part of the reason the company is experiencing growth, moving into new office space in Czech Village just three months ago.

“We’ve moved five times in 11 years,” Wickham said. “We are just on an acceleration path.”

Wickham got her start with Think Safe as a volunteer during the company’s infancy. The business officially launched in 2004, spent the next several years raising the necessary investor funds — even through the recession — to fully launch, and has been growing ever since.

Its initial product, First Voice, is an emergency instruction device featuring five hours and 16 minutes of coaching content for first-on-the-scene responders to emergencies in public spaces such as schools and workplaces.


“It remains very popular in remote areas where it takes emergency medical personnel longer to arrive,” Wickham said.

She noted the patented technology has since led Think Safe into the software development realm.

“We became really good at the technical side of things and understanding the space,” she said of their work in first aid training and management.

Wickham’s role has her overseeing the various Think Safe divisions — marketing, sales, research and development, operations and finance.

The company now has about 40 full- and part-time employees.

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At a glance

• President and CEO: Paula Wickham

• Company: Think Safe

• Address: 1445 C St. SW, Cedar Rapids

• Phone: (319) 377-5125

• Website:

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