PhD position: optimization of volunteer emergency response

Research / Academic

Reducing emergency response times is of paramount importance, and traditional emergency services can be helped by volunteers that are dispatched via a smartphone app. Such community first responder (CFR) systems are already commonly used to send resuscitation-trained volunteers to cardiac arrest patients, and may in the near future also be used for other emergencies. In this unique project you work closely with CFR systems, ambulance providers, firefighters, red cross and others.

In this PhD project you will develop methodologies and algorithms to ensure CFR systems operate in the most efficient and effective way. This includes

  • modeling the effectiveness of such systems in relation to to the number of volunteers
  • the spatial optimization of where to recruit volunteers
  • developing alerting strategies: which volunteers should get an alert? Should we alert many immediately, or build in a time lag?
  • How to best spend a training budget to improve the skills of some of the existing volunteers
  • optimal volunteer task diversification: which volunteers do you instruct to travel directly to the incident and which ones need to pick up equipment first?

In the models you will develop, stochasticity plays an important role, as both volunteer locations and whether or not they will accept their task are uncertain. Techniques may include mathematical optimization, simulation and machine learning.


  • A research master's degree in Operations Research, Business Analytics, Mathematics, Industrial engineering, Computer Science or related field. This is a master’s degree of 2 years (120 ECTS) with a focus on research and research methodology.
  • Programming skills
  • Proficiency in written and spoken English (C1)
  • Proficiency in Dutch is an advantage because of our Dutch project partners

Salary Benefits:

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The PhD candidate can rely on the intensive supervision offered by SBE’s leading researchers in the field. The School provides opportunities to attend conferences, and meet other international researchers, The prospects for the School’s doctoral graduates on the labor market are excellent, both inside and outside the academic world. The PhD candidate will receive a salary The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts to € 3.226 gross per month during the first year and increases to € 3.539 gross per month during the last year, based on full-time employment.

The appointment will initially be for one year. After satisfactory evaluation, the contract will be extended for a total duration of three years.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:

  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment,
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus,
  • solid pension scheme (ABP),
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package
Work Hours:

38 hours per week


De Boelelaan 1105