This EMT is making a game about saving lives in NYC

There is nothing in America like the 911 system in New York City.

It’s the busiest system in the country, by far, which is appropriate for the most populous and dense city we have, and it is a thing to behold: in 2014, FDNY alone had over a million hospital transports and over 50,000 civilians saved or rescued from fire or accident-related emergencies.  Every minute, somebody, somewhere in the city is having a REALLY BAD DAY.

One EMT is making a game about the thousands of people who have made it their job to help out when that’s the case.

EmergeNYC (get it?) is a pretty slick-looking sim encompassing police, fire and medical emergency response in the big apple. It’s been Greenlit on Steam, and is currently in an indiegogo campaign. Born out of an Emergency 4 mod (and now running in the Unity engine), it’s a passion project from the tiny team at FlipSwitch Games. According to the game’s copy, you’ll be able to send your squads out to handle all sorts of emergencies, and live out lifelong fantasies of driving a beastly fire truck hitting the siren all the way.

“Since I was young I’ve wanted to be a firefighter in NYC,” Rafael Fernandez, lead developer of the game (and a certified EMT with dozens of FDNY ride-alongs under his belt) told me via email. “I learned how to make video games and the rest is history.”

I’m a volunteer EMT in Brooklyn and Queens myself, so I have something of an extra-special interest in the game and how it models the utterly bananas volume of emergency response calls here. I do think there’s a universal appeal here, though: this is one field that is kind of never boring. Cardiac arrest, building on fire, someone is trapped in an elevator, take your pick — there is literally always something going on.

There’s also something universal about wanting to be the awesome, live-saving hero in a terrifying emergency. Why else would there be FDNY t-shirts on sale at every tourist trap in the city?

One thing that I really, really hope makes it into the final game: some of the peculiar (one might even say “gallows”) humor that seems to go along with the job. Go watch Bringing Out The Dead if you want a nice, piquant taste.

EmergeNYC will have a new playable pre-alpha in November.