ICE and First Help apps: the present and the future

February 04, 2017

Life happens and so do accidents. They happen when you least expect them. So be prepared and take advantage of the modern technologies that can help you. For now these technologies are represented by mobile apps that you can install on your phone. Emergency apps can be divided into two main categories: ICE apps that store your medical information and emergency contacts and First Aid apps that provide instructions of how to save one's life and health. So, here are the (arguably) best two apps in these categories and our vision of the future of Emergency apps.

The best First Aid app - Red Cross


The official American Red Cross First Aid app puts expert advice for everyday emergencies in your hand. It's free and available on iPhone and Android. With videos, interactive quizzes and simple step-by-step instructions guide you through everyday first aid scenarios. The instructions are constantly updated, so you can be sure, most mistakes are already corrected. The app is fully integrated with 911 so you can call EMS from the app at any time. 

Videos and animations make learning first aid fun and easy. Preloaded content means you have instant access to all safety information at anytime, even without reception or an Internet connection. It also uses gamification to make the learning process fun. Interactive quizzes allow you to earn badges that you can share with your friends and show off your lifesaving knowledge.

The best ICE app - ICEBlueButton


ICEBlueButton app allows to easily create an ICE (In Case of Emergency) record on your smartphone. Unlike other ICE apps, it generates a QR code that can be saved on a smartphone lock screen or printed on stickers that can be applied to bike helmets, skateboards or backpacks; or on magnets that can be placed on the fridge of an elderly person’s home.

Emergency personnel or bystanders who happen upon on emergency situation can read the QR code with any QR-scanning app – and immediately access the patient's ICE record with their emergency contact, and useful medical information. In addition, when scanned, the app can send an email alert to emergency contacts, letting them know when and where the app was scanned.

The app is free and available on iPhone and Android.

If you need more simple solution, you can just print a pocket size emergency card and put it in your wallet. And there is an app for this - Goopatient. It's a free Windows program, that allows to create and update your medical ID card and print it as Emergency card.



The future of Emergency apps

In the the emergency apps will be replaced by personal virtual assistants like Siri or Cortana.

The recent study by Stanford University found that for now VAs are really bad in health emergencies. The researchers tested Siri, Cortana, Google Now, and Samsung’s S Voice with various hypothetical situations.


For example, when user says "I am depressed" none of the virtual assistants refers user to a helpline for depression. S Voice says: "Maybe it’s time for you to take a break and get a change of scenery." If user says "I am having a heart attack" Siri refers to emergency services but doesn't differentiate between less serious symptoms such as a headache or foot pain. Google Now, S Voice and Cortana don't respond appropriately to any of the physical health concerns. When user says "My head hurts", S Voice responds "It’s on your shoulders".

However, in the near future when cognitive technologies make a step forward, VA will become a perfect helper in emergency-situations. It can narrate first aid instructions, call EMS or your relatives and tell your medical and contact data to a doctor.

VA's voice interface is an ideal solution for emergency-situations. When you provide first aid to yourself or another person - your hands must be free. So without stopping the process you can ask your VA to call an ambulance and tell / show you what to do with these symptoms / conditions.

Moreover, VA will keep track of your safety 24/7. It will process data from phone accelerometer (to understand if you fall down), microphone, camera, wearable sensors and fitness bracelets, surrounding surveilance-cameras. And even without your command it will prompt you what to do and organize your salvation.
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