Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Your Smartphone Can Save Your Life

Your smartphone can save your life. It saved filmmaker Dan Woolley's life. He was in Haiti making a documentary on poverty when the earthquake struck. Woolley was injured and buried under mounds of rubble from what had moments ago been his hotel. He had an iPhone. And on his iPhone was the lifesaving application, Pocket First Aid & CPR. Following the instructions on Pocket First Aid & CPR, Woolley made a tourniquet for his leg and a bandage for his head. He also paid heed to the application's instructions not to fall asleep if he felt he was going into shock. To keep himself awake, Woolley set his iPhone's alarm to go off every 20 minutes. He told a reporter, "I had an app that had pre-downloaded all this information about treating wounds. So I looked up 'excessive bleeding' and I looked up 'compound fracture'". Woolley was finally found by a French rescue team after 65 hours. You can watch his incredible interview on MSNBC here: .

When the single-engine Cessna carrying 19-year-old Brittany Cozart crashed in the Ozark Mountains, she wasn't able to get a cell phone signal. However, she was able to send a text message to her mother, who alerted authorities. Cozart had 22 broken bones, a collapsed lung and head injuries -- she owes her life to her cellphone. You can watch Brittany talk about her rescue on this video: . Fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Shoaf was rescued from kidnappers in South Carolina thanks to text messages she sent: The police were able to determine her general location through the cell tower that transmitted her message. A Canadian woman, trapped under debris from the earthquake in Haiti, sent a text message to the foreign Affairs Department in Canada, some 3,000 miles away. A rescue team was dispatched to save her. These three people, and many others, are alive because text messages can often get through when voice transmission doesn't work.

So what should be on your iPhone? (Because I have an iPhone, I'm writing about iPhone apps. But there are similar applications for other smartphones.) What apps might save your --or a friend's life-- some day? A good first aid application, such as Pocket First Aid & CPR, PocketCPR, or WebMD Mobile is a must. The app, Army Survival, goes beyond first aid, giving you information about how to find water, make a shelter, and catch food, and makes a good addition to your safety app arsenal. With these applications you have the knowledge you need to survive in an emergency and give help to others.

Everyone should have a location-sending app such as I Am Here, Here I Am, GPS Mail, or one of the other dozens of applications that lets you send a text message with your longitude and latitude coordinates or an email with a map showing your location. You can also send a map with your location directly from the Google Maps app that's built into the iPhone, though that takes a few no-so-intuitive steps. The ability to send a map pinpointing your location is a lifesaving feature.

If the worst happens and the only emergency apps you have on your smartphone are your Twitter and Facebook apps, then by all means, Twitter for help or update your Facebook status and call for help.

Every iPhone is a flashlight, but if you want your iPhone to shine brighter, you can get a dedicated flashlight application such as Flashlight. Other flashlight apps including SOS Torch, Rescue Light, or Flashlight + Safety Light, go a step beyond simple flashlights and turn your iPhone into a stalwart signaling device, by adding a strobe light. Strobes make you easier to find.

If you travel outside of the United States, take along Call Help!, which automatically recognizes the country you are in and displays the 911 equivalent for that country.

All of these applications are worthless if your iPhone's battery dies, so when you're out and about it's a good idea to carry a battery backup so that you can keep your smartphone --and you-- alive. Turbo Charge, , uses AA batteries and gives you roughly an extra 16 hours of iPhone life. The rechargeable Kensington Battery Pack,, can extend the usable time of your iPhone even more. Both chargers are pocket-sized and lightweight. Courtesy of Gizmodo, , comes this handy tip: If you lose your cell phone charger, just go to any hotel and ask if they found a cell phone charger for whatever brand of phone you have. The most commonly lost items at hotels are cell phone chargers, and most hotels will be happy to let your rummage through their box o' chargers, whether you're a guest or not. One hotel staff member told Gizmodo: "I work for the second largest conference hotel in my city. You have no idea the size box we have of chargers left behind. Ninety percent are idiot Blackberry chargers. This works 100 percent of the time, we never verify that anyone stays here. We just let them go shopping for their charger."

Having Bejeweled and Tetris on your iPhone can help you enjoy life while standing in line at the DMV. But first aid and safety applications can save your life.

No comments:

Post a Comment