If you’re a first responder, you know crucial each second can be in an emergency situation. Likewise, if you’ve ever been the victim of a crash or medical emergency, you know how hard it can be to think quickly. In some situations, you are not even able to communicate. You may be in shock or unconscious.
Smartphones allow us to carry important information around with us. That includes information that is critical during medical emergencies. Anyone and everyone can take the steps below. If you work as an EMT or paramedic, share this information with your friends and families. Tell them you know firsthand how important it is.

1. Store an ICE Number in Your Phone

Since 2005, the British mobile phone company Vodaphone, along with others, has popularized the idea of an “ICE” or “in case of emergency” number. Enter your significant other, a parent, or whomever you want EMS to contact first, using this moniker. EMTs and paramedics know to call that number first if you are unresponsive.
One problem many people find is how to work around a lock screen. If your phone automatically locks, first responders cannot access your contacts list. One method is to make your lock screen image a photo of pertinent information. Here are instructions on how to make a “Note” file your home screen on an iPhone. Another method is simply to take a screenshot of your ICE contact page.
Some smart phones allow you to program a scrolling band of text across your lock screen. This is another option for where to place ICE information.
A myth circulated a few years ago saying that hackers could use your ICE entry to access private information on your phone. Snopes debunked the myth here.

2. Use an App for Key Medical Information

Many smartphone users now go beyond the ICE entry to use an app for more complete medical information. Android, iPhone, and Windows all offer medical apps for their smartphones. These allow you to store not only an emergency phone number but useful information like:

  • Allergies to latex or drugs
  • Conditions such as diabetes or heart disease
  • Medications you’re currently taking
  • Your blood type
  • Whether or not you’re an organ donor
  • Your general doctor’s name and number

Apple’s Health App comes built into its iPhones. The Health App allows users to track things like steps and heart rate. Within the app is a feature called Medical ID, described as “an enhanced version of ICE.” It can be used to record all of the information listed above. It offers an option to bypass the phone’s lock screen. It even allows you to sign up as an organ donor.
Android offers an app called ICE: In Case of Emergency. It costs $3.99 and gets generally favorable reviews. It’s rated 4.3 at the time of this writing. There many other similar apps on the market. Be sure to research them, read reviews, and look at their privacy policies before installing them.

3. Keeping it Analog

As this post suggests, there is no substitute for a medical alert bracelet. Your phone battery could die or the phone itself could be damaged beyond use in a car accident. Tech Guy Labs writes that “emergency personnel only consider smartphones as a backup location for your medical information. They are trained to check in specific locations for a physical emergency card.”

Your best bet is to store critical information in multiple places, especially if you have a life-threatening condition.
The time to think about emergencies is before they happen. If you work in EMS, you know this all too well. Communicate with your loved ones and help make the system work for everyone.

PHOTO: Edward Lich / CC0 Public Domain