Two traumatic ‘near-death experiences’ inspired father-of-two Rashid Khan to develop a game-changing evacuation safety app designed to save lives.
As a nine-year-old boy living in Pakistan he lead 18 children to safety during the Ojhri Camp disaster on April 10, 1988, when a weapons depot exploded leaving 192 dead and thousands injured.
Then in 2017 while working at National Australia Bank in Melbourne he witnessed the Bourke Street Mall tragedy that shook the country when a car deliberately drove into pedestrians, killing six.
He was just 20m away from the carnage and could hear people screaming followed by shots being fired.
Now he’s the proud CEO and Founder of Evacovation and won CEO Magazine’s Start-Up Executive of the Year award.
‘We live in a modern world where our phones are always within arm’s reach – why aren’t we using technology to better protect people? We should be,’ Mr Khan told FEMAIL.
Father-of-two Rashid Khan survived two tragedies which lead to the development on the safety app Evacovation (pictured with wife Kanwa and twins Hania Khan and Rayyan)
At just nine years old he lead 18 children to safety during the the Ojhri Camp disaster in 1988 when a weapons depot exploded. Then in 2017 he witnessed the Bourke Street Mall tragedy when a car deliberately drove into pedestrians
Pictured age nine in Pakistan
On that dreadful day in 1988, he was home from school because he wasn’t feeling well. He was home alone at the time.
All was peaceful and relaxing until he heard a loud bang at around 10am.
‘I remember it like it was yesterday. It was an awful day. Everything was happening so suddenly and I did what I had to do,’ he recalled.
There was an accidental explosion at the World War II storage of arms and ammunition located between Rawalpindi and Islamabad, sparking fear and panic among thousands.
A fire caused a low-density explosion followed by a massive one which caused missiles, rockets and projectiles to shoot into the air. Some of which smashed into buildings.
‘The whole city was terrified because there were bombs coming form everywhere,’ Mr Khan said.
In 1988 in Pakistan a fire caused a low-density explosion followed by a massive one which caused missiles, rockets and projectiles to shoot into the air. Some of which smashed into building
Across the road from his home was a small primary school where he heard the screams of young children.
Despite being a young boy himself, he ran to the school and lead 18 kids in Year 1 to the safety of their homes.
It was an hour of hell darting through backstreets, keeping an eye out for explosives and making sure no child was left behind in the process.
Looking back Mr Khan said he ‘did what he had to do’ – and thankfully he did because a missile hit the school building afterwards.
Deciding to leave the house left his parents worried sick but were thrilled to see him return.
His heroic act was also acknowledge by his teacher and this recognition paved the way for what was to come later in life.
‘There was a real appreciation for what I did within the community which stuck with me and I realised I wanted to keep helping people,’ he said.
Flash forward to January 2017 when Mr Khan was working for NAB, he and work colleagues were returning to the office after a team lunch when tragedy struck.
Innocent bystanders were mowed down and killed in the heart of the Melbourne CBD. James Gargasoulas was on a rampage in a stolen car when he run down and killed six people, including a baby boy and young girl in Bourke Street.
In 2017 Innocent bystanders were mowed down and killed in the heart of the Melbourne CBD. James Gargasoulas was on a rampage in a stolen car when he run down and killed six people, including a baby boy and young girl in Bourke Street
Pictured: People hugging on the corner of Bourke and Elizabeth street after a rogue car ploughed through pedestrians on January 20, 2017
‘As we entered the building we heard sounds from outside and saw it all unfolding.. it was traumatic,’ Mr Khan said.
‘The building exterior was made of glass – you could see what was happening from inside and on higher levels. So we told people on the ground floor to stay inside. A lot of people needed counselling after.’
The devastating incident served as a catalyst for Mr Khan’s vision and desire to create an innovative emergency management solution.
‘What triggered me most was why we don’t have a system in place to communicate with others and save lives,’ Mr Khan said.
‘In a situation like that, for instance, people outside could’ve alerted others not to come out or to be aware of the danger that’s forthcoming.
‘We don’t have a system and we need one.’
This is where Evacovation steps in.
The devastating situations served as a catalyst for Mr Khan’s vision and desire to create an innovative emergency management solution
The app also won CEO Magazine’s Start-Up Executive of the Year award
The app connects all responsible people with a specific chain of command to ensure employees are safe during an emergency.
The service encompasses six core emergencies from fire evacuations to floods and external factors like shootings. There’s also education modules.
Mr Khan wants to ensure all evacuation procedures are flawless to ensure no lives are lost.
But while the app is free, an employer must create an account in order for individuals to sign in and use the service.
Mr Khan also thanked his wife of 14 years Kanwal for her ongoing support during his business venture.
The CEO Magazine Founder, Chris Dutton, said: ‘Rashid’s journey exemplifies the transformative power of innovation and dedication in the pursuit of creating safer, more resilient communities.
‘His vision and leadership have earned him the title of Startup Executive of the Year, a testament to his profound impact on the field of emergency management technology.’