Medical device creator found inspiration in a near-death experience

SWFL Reinvented: Moving Forward Episode 3
Posted at 1:57 AM, Feb 11, 2021

NAPLES, FLA — Fabio Tagliascchi looks at many things in life like a complex mathematical problem. He’s a math professor, so it makes sense. He finds an issue, works out an equation, and ultimately comes to a solution. But somewhere in the creation of his new business, the analytical way of looking at it turned into something much more emotional. It turned into saving lives.

Fabio’s story is part of our series, SWFL Reinvented: Moving Forward. Fox 4 Morning News Anchor, Chris Shaw, finds small business owners who are just getting started and follows their journey from idea, to business creation, to the ups and downs of the first year in business. A new episode of the series starts streaming every Thursday on the Fox 4 app and the Fox 4 website.

Fabio created a business called C-Alert. It’s a way to store and share personal medical information with first responders and other emergency workers. And to understand how he came up with the idea, there are two things you should know about him.

First, in 2007, he went to the emergency room with heart problems.

“And at that time I learned that I was very allergic to nitroglycerin,” Fabio says. "They gave it to me and I died. I died for 26 seconds.”

That would eventually give him the idea for C-Alert. But the second thing you should know about him, tells you how he turned the idea into reality.

“In 1955 I had Polio,” Fabio says. "My parents were wonderful. The focus was not on what I could not do. The focus was always on what I could do. Because of that experience and because of them, you develop determination. A will. A focus to move forward.”

This issue came into focus for Fabio in 2017. He went back to the hospital, this time for a triple bypass.

“It is common for a first responder to give a person with a cardiac issue, in the moment with pain, nitroglycerin,” Fabio says. "So it’s really important that I’m able to communicate that information. And I was for my triple bypass. Otherwise, maybe we wouldn’t be having this conversation today.”

As he recovered, he wondered about the people who are not able to give that kind of important medical information to first responders.

So he got to work on the problem.

He hooked up with a computer programmer, and initially, they thought an app or some piece of high tech equipment was the key. So Fabio started pitching ideas to first responders.

"And they said, ’that’s worthless. Well, we’re not going to play with that. We have seconds to save this person’s life. Seconds. And every second is vital to us,’” Fabio says of the conversation. [The first responders] set the parameters. Because they don’t want to carry another piece of technology. They’re carrying enough.”

So Fabio found the answer to this problem was something more simple. He and his partner developed a QR code that can be printed on a card for your wallet. Or it can go on a pendant, a key fob, a shoe tag, really any wearable piece of jewelry. The code links to an online profile that contains only information the member wants to share. It can be allergies or medication the person is taking or medical history, even if they’ve gotten the Covid-19 vaccine.

Fabio identified a problem. He worked out an equation. And he came to a solution. Just like a math problem. But as he began to sell his product he started hearing from customers about how C-Alert saved their lives. And that’s what drives him now, to continually update and add new features to the system.

“Find your focus,” he says. "Make sure that you are solving a need. And never ever quit.”