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Smartphone apps offer support in emergencies

September 22, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
What would you do if we had a major disaster, or you were lost in the wilderness, or someone in your family needed immediate first aid? Most likely your first step would be to call for help. You might even use your cell phone. But your cell phone can do a lot more than make a call.There is a cell phone application for just about any emergency. Whether it be a threat to health, life or property, your smart phone might just be smart enough to help you and those around you survive.

Here's one app you will want on your phone that can talk for you when you can't: It's called smart-ICE. It was invented by a former firefighter in Ohio.

"It allows you to store the current medical problems, the medications, allergies, any medical devices such as defibrillators or pacemakers, medical history, any past medical problems, the surgeries, hospitalizations, immunizations," said Tim Green, smart-ICE app founder.

OK, let's say you're stranded, you're not too sure where you are, but you're not too far from civilization. So you could use your phone. But if you called someone, what would tell them? Instead, there's an app called Droid 911.

"All you do is press on Droid 911, it locates you via GPS and it will find the closest hospital for you," said Kathleen Dunleavy, spokesperson for Sprint. "It will also find the closest police station, tow truck, ATM or bank, depending on what kind of a need you have."

Another app can warn you about an emergency situation, sometimes before it happens. It's called POM Alert. POM stands for "Peace Of Mind" and it's one of a series of emergency apps from ThinAir Wireless.

"The POM Alert system is a 'set it and forget it' iPhone application that basically takes your geographic location and when things happen that are in your area, whether it be a weather alert, whether it be an earthquake, tornado, it will actually notify you in real time right to your cell phone," said Trip Wakefield, ThinAir Wireless president and chief executive officer.

In a major disaster just about everyone's going to try to use their cell phone. That's going to put a lot of strain on the network, so your call may not go through. So what do you do? Try texting.

"Text messages actually use up less space on the network," said Sprint's Dunleavy. "So they have a better chance of getting through, especially if you want to let someone know, 'Hey, I'm OK,' or if you want to find out where someone is, send a text."

Some applications don't need to be smart, just functional. A flashlight app is available for all phones and can light the way any time when the power goes down.

And there's another app that can signal an emergency SOS.

By the way, if you're unable to communicate, paramedics and firefighters know to check your cell phone for an emergency number. If you put one in, make sure to title it "ICE," which stands for "In Case of Emergency.

And let's not forget during a time of disaster you will want to stay up to date with all the breaking news, and ABC7 Eyewitness News has an app for that.

Emergency Radio (iTunes)

Emergency (iTunes)

medSOS (iTunes)

5-0 Radio Pro Police Scanner (iTunes)

smart-ICE (iTunes)

Emergency First Aid & Treatment Guide (iTunes)

Informed Emergency & Critical Care Pocket Guide (iTunes)

WebMD Mobile (iTunes)

Army Survival for iPad/iPhone

DocGPS (iTunes)

POM Alert (iTunes)

Disaster Survival (iTunes)

WeatherAlert (iTunes)

Panic Multi-function Safety Button (BlackBerry)

Emergency Info (BlackBerry)

SOS (BlackBerry)

iMobile Care - First Aid and Health (BlackBerry)

Do you want the Eyewitness News team to call you? Get a FREE Morning Wake-up Call and personalized weather report at abc7.com/wakeup


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