How Mobile Is Helping with Emergency Response

We’ve come a long way since the days of “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” Of course, almost everything in our lives is affected by the evolution of mobile, so why not emergency response? Like Life Alert, the system the nice old grandma used in the famous fall commercial, there does happen to be “an app for that.” Called “Fall Alert“, it makes a phone call to a programmed number if it senses the person carrying the phone has fallen.

I started thinking about mobile and emergencies last week, when the city of Chicago announced that it would accept images from 9-1-1 callers to help them analyze emergency situations. As much as idiots who text while driving have caused emergency situations, perhaps this will help tilt the scale a little back toward helpful and good for mobile technology.

Chicago’s move reminded me of the only time I’ve called 9-1-1, when I was driving and a car in front of me was swerving liberally into the neighboring lane and into the oncoming traffic lane. I stopped at a gas station to make the call, keeping an eye on the offending vehicle, which was stopped behind a few cars at a light. After explaining the situation calmly, something like, “HELP-THERE’S-A-DRUNK-DRIVER-AND-HE’S-DRIVING-DRUNK-AND-SWERVING-AND-DRUNK-DRIVING-AND-HE’S-GONNA-KILL-SOMEONE-HELP!” The dispatcher got the location information (somehow) and continued to ask questions.

While answering, I was rendered speechless because the drunk driver proceeded to drive the few feet into the car in front of him, while the light was still red. It was such a light tap that the other driver got out, inspected the bump, and waved it off, letting Mr. Drunk Driver step back into his car. I explained this to the dispatcher, who was having a hard time understanding me, as I was coming across as a bit dramatic (Who, me?). I would have loved to send a picture at that moment, first of the car and the evil life-endangerer who was about to drive away and kill someone (so he could be identified at a later time), and then of my own shocked and amazed and helpless face.

I did luck out, however, since the driver proceeded to hit the person in front of him AGAIN before the light turned green, and that driver knew at that moment that something was up. Police showed up, and I exited the scene having done all I could.

I read the next day in the paper about an arrest—the driver had been hitting cars for a few miles in parking lots, etc, before being arrested for life endangerment. He had been trying to commit suicide with a bottle of pills, it didn’t take, so he went for a little ride to get the job done. Yipes.

In this case, mobile photos could have helped identify the vehicle, make, and possibly driver, since I know the basics—truck, van, car, but would have a hard time identifying further than that to anyone.

So hooray to mobile for helping with emergencies, and to the city of Chicago for taking this first step. And can I get a loud collective “Boo!” and a hiss for those who text while driving, so we can help move mobile more toward good on the scale and away from the harm side.

I like to think we’re helping evolve emergency response a little, even in our line of work. Demi and Cooper has recently launched an “ICE app”, which, among other things, lists an emergency contact on the wallpaper of an iPhone, and within the app lists medications a person is allergic to and currently taking. Hospitals can sponsor the app and offer it to people in their area. Check out the app here. The Sherman Hospital version of the app will be available for download soon!