Having the correct health information at hand and being able to quickly contact emergency medical services (EMS) could mean the difference between life and death in an emergency. SHEQ MANAGEMENT explores innovative solutions.

By their very nature, emergencies are unexpected and can happen anywhere, at any time. One cannot expect that an EMS professional or qualified first-aider will always be around in the case of an emergency. It is, therefore, a good idea to have some sort of reference plan should such a situation arise. It could mean that, during those critical minutes until emergency services arrive, a life could be saved

Today this is much easier to accomplish. Thanks to modern mobile-app technology, there are several general and specialist first-aid and emergency apps one can download to a smart device. These provide fast, trusted advice for minor and serious cases. Here is a list of just some of the apps available:

CPR 11

Designed for use on the sports field, CPR 11 provides clear and precise instructions on how to give compressions and ventilations correctly, how to handle an automatic external defibrillator (AED) and, if necessary, how to transfer the casualty in the case of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

“The 11 short videos will help you recognise a SCA and meet the objective of starting resuscitation manoeuvres in the first two minutes, and early defibrillation in the first three minutes after the collapse of the player.

“The application’s design takes into account some of the specific characteristics of SCA cases during contact sports, like taking special care of the cervical spine when handling the player,” the developers state.

Pros: Comprehensive, immediate response measures

Cons: Only offers CPR guidelines for SCA

Platform: Apple, Android and Windows

mySOS

MySOS is billed as “a one-stop shop for access to the closest and most appropriate emergency services in South Africa”. According to the developers, the app offers access to appropriate emergency assistance when users don’t know who to call, don’t know where they are, want to notify their mySOS contacts about the emergency and the exact location, and want the SOS services to navigate directly to the location in an emergency.

The app also offers contact details for doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, dentists, vets and police stations. The Track Me feature can be used to track any journey and automatically send out a detailed SOS notification should certain parameters be breached.

Pros: Links via Bluetooth to a mobile panic button (separate purchase), free to download

Cons: Continuously runs GPS and features use data

Platform: Apple and Android

Namola

The Namola app allows users to request emergency assistance and to alert up to five emergency contacts. When the user requests assistance through the app, trained control-centre operators verify incident details before assisting in the deployment of the correct emergency responders.

The app also allows users to receive details of an incident should they be listed in someone else’s emergency contacts. Users can join a chat group with the person who requested assistance, the control room, and other emergency contacts who were alerted.

Pros: Instant incident location through GPS, free to download

Cons: Request for assistance only

Platform: Apple and Android

Snakebite First Aid Southern Africa

This app will help with descriptions and identification of 23 dangerous and venomous snakes (including spitting snakes) in southern Africa. It offers practical, illustrated, step-by-step first-aid advice on what to do if someone is bitten by one.

Other features include high-quality photos, maps and succinct information about snake habits and habitats.

Pros: Includes emergency contact numbers

Cons: Priced from R79,99

Platform: Apple and Android

South African Red Cross Society (SARCS)

The SARCS app links users with the organisation and with other app users from around the world. It provides instant information and news about SARCS and its activities and specific projects, as well as current events.

Through the app, users can get information on courses offered by the SARCS Training Department and enrol in these courses. They can also sign up to become a volunteer for SARCS and engage in various activities.

Pros: Receive emergency alerts, free to download

Cons: No practical first-aid or emergency advice

Platform: Apple and Android

St John Ambulance First Aid

This app includes the latest first-aid advice and protocols for dealing with emergency situations, offering simple illustrated guides and voice instructions.

St John warns that the app doesn’t replace the benefits of learning first aid, nor is it as in depth as a full first-aid manual. “When there is an emergency, it will help users to know what to do to in those first few crucial moments when basic knowledge of first aid can make the difference,” the company states.

Pros: Free to download

Cons: Based on United Kingdom protocols

Platform: Apple and Android

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