Your Smartphone Could Be A Lifesaver

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By Shanon Raynard

smartphoneMaking the right call in a high-stress, high-stakes environment can be a challenge, even for those who work in emergency medicine. Nevertheless, taking quick, appropriate action is often the difference between life and death. Do you know what to do in an emergency?

Having the right tools can make it easier to effectively respond in difficult situations. Here are some apps for smartphones that make being prepared easier than ever whether you are a provider, a patient, or just another health-conscious individual.

Pocket First Aid & CPR: This app from the American Heart Association is a user-friendly how-to guide for responding to medical incidents that range from scraped knees to stroke. Those who are a little rusty on the proper way to perform CPR—and even those who never learned—can trust the step-by-step instructional videos included with this app. All of the videos, illustrations, and articles are saved on your phone or tablet so you can access them anytime, even if you don’t have cellular or satellite service. Another notable feature is the ability to save your (or your loved ones’) medical information, including medications, allergies, physicians, emergency contacts, and more. Securely store your insurance information, as well, so you have it on hand in the event of an urgent trip to the ER.

Instant Heart Rate Pro: This app does exactly what it sounds like. Instant Heart Rate Pro uses the camera on your smartphone as an oximeter (that little gizmo the nurse clamps onto your finger when you visit the doctor) to measure your pulse. A real-time chart of your heart beat will show on the display screen. This app is routinely tested by doctors, nurses, and EMTs to ensure accurate readings. It can be an excellent tool when trying to evaluate the severity of an ill or injured person’s condition.

girlcellphoneMedlert Emergency Response: This app requires a subscription (prices range from nothing to $350/year for differing degrees of coverage), but offers peace of mind—especially if you or a loved one live with a high-risk condition. Medlert keeps you one click away from a network of trained dispatchers who have instant access to your important, relevant health information. The app provides very precise location services (able to indicate not only what building you’re in, but also which floor) and allows you to store contact information for the people you want to auto-notify in the event of an emergency. Once the emergency notification goes out, you will be able to track the location of your contacts and they will be able to view your location, as well.

Medscape: While Medscape may be designed for medical professionals, it offers plenty of valuable features for everyday users. For example, this app allows you to access safety and other information for thousands of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, herbal medications and supplements. More importantly, you can check for interactions between as many as 30 drugs at one time. Like the Pocket First Aid & CPR app, Medscape offers instructional videos that can come in handy if you find yourself in a situation where you need to take fast first aid action.

Those who want to take their emergency preparedness to the next level can register for online basic life support (BLS) courses and receive BLS certification endorsed by the American Heart Association.

– Shanon Raynard writes on behalf of She believes that preparation is an important part of health and wellness.