Tech Talk: Make your phone smart enough to save lives

By Kathryn Dunmore, Canadian Red Cross blogger

In today’s digital world, many of us realize how helpful technology is to our daily lives. Whether we’re mapping destinations, ordering food, making plans, even banking, our smart phones offer a lot of convenience in our hands. But have you thought about how this technology could help save your life or the life of another in an emergency?

I live by my phone and not only for social reasons – though I’m often on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter feeling very much in touch with friends’ lives – but I use it to check weather to dress appropriately, to pay my bills and to guide me step-by-step to new destinations. It only makes sense to ensure it has resources to help in case of an emergency.

Here are some tips and resources so your phone is smart enough to save lives:
  • The Red Cross First Aid App literally puts life-saving advice in your hands with helpful tips on first aid and responding to everyday emergencies. With first aid tips on what to do if someone is seizing, this app would have been a big help when a friend and I came across a young man in distress a few years ago (he was okay but not because of anything I did).  The app teaches first aid for many emergencies including bleeding, broken bones, burns, head injury, heart attack, poisoning, seizures, stroke and unconsciousness.
The First Aid and Be Ready apps are free to download   
  • Include an ‘In Case of Emergency’ contact, such as a close relative or friend who can be notified should an emergency happen to you. A friend recently publicly posted to ask everyone do this after witnessing a neighbour in delirium after a fall; emergency teams attending her could not contact anyone on her behalf as she couldn’t recall names or numbers – my friend had to watch helplessly as she was taken to hospital knowing no one had been notified. Having emergency contacts in your phone will help others contact loved ones, not only for support but to find out about any pre-existing conditions, such as allergies, of which to be aware. There are now apps available for Android, Windows, and iPhones that can add emergency contact information to your lock screen. Search for "ICE" or "ICE lock screen" in your app store to find one that works for your phone.
  • In an advanced version of an ICE app, Medical ID is a built-in iPhone feature, providing medical personnel with more details regarding your personal health, including any pre-existing medical conditions, allergies, blood types and organ donor preferences as well as emergency contacts. Should you require immediate assistance and are incapable of providing it, this app can also be accessed via the lock screen on your iPhone so the passcode isn’t needed. Medical ID needs to be set up by you, the phone owner, in the Health app - see Apple’s web site to learn how to do so. While various Android versions aren’t as detailed, as mentioned, they do allow you to add emergency details to the lock screen.  

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