How to Access EMS Through Technology

Video 4 of 46
4 min 29 sec
English, Español
English, Español

The last few decades have seen a surge in the amount of technology available to the public. It affects every facet of our lives, including how we interface with and access Emergency Medical Services, along with how they're able to respond to those emergencies.

This lesson will help you better understand a few aspects of using the technology available to you, including how best to leverage it to your advantage while also navigating through some of its nuances.

Text Messaging

Certain areas of the country have aggressively adopted text message ability to reach 911 and access EMS. However, it's important to understand that this capability doesn't exist in all locations, so it pays to be aware of the situation in your particular area before having to depend on a service that doesn't yet exist.

There are obvious advantages to having this text service available, particularly for people who are hearing impaired. Or for people working in loud environments, such as factories and nightclubs. It makes sense in any situation where it's difficult to hear through either the speakerphone feature or the regular speaker. But even though it makes sense, it doesn't mean it's going to be available just yet.

Using Your Cell Phone to Call 911

This is the preferred way to contact EMS, via your cell phone and talking to them directly. Speaking will always be faster than texting, especially during an emergency.

A cell phone allows for hands-free communication, as you can put it on speakerphone, lay it down, and continue to help the patient while on the phone with an EMS dispatcher who can talk you through any problems you may encounter.

While cell phones have truly been game-changers in this industry, there are a couple of nuances to be aware of.

Does the phone in question have locking capabilities?

Let's say someone other than you is trying to use your phone to call 911, but it's locked. Most cell phones these days have an emergency word that will bypass the lock and allow the user to use the phone to dial 911.

This is particularly important in a situation where you hand your phone to a bystander to call 911 … a bystander who likely doesn't know your code. Time is of the essence in any emergency and seconds can sometimes matter a great deal.

All cell phones are a little different when it comes to accessing EMS. It pays, not only to become familiar yourself, but also to teach others in your household how to call 911 from all the cell phones in your home. This should also include nannies, babysitters, and anyone else in a similar position.

Applications and Software

There have been some exciting technological developments in the areas of apps and software. One such program enables access to nearby bystanders and volunteers who are trained and available to help in case of an emergency.

Pulse Point is one such application. After the trained rescuer registers with Pulse Point, they are entered into the pool of rescuers within a particular geographical area who can be notified of local emergencies. It allows those who have been trained in CPR and first aid to respond quickly in a crisis if they're nearby and available.

AED Locator

It's normal to be in a situation where you may need an AED but you don't have one or know where the closest one is. While this situation may be normal now, it may not be for long.

Publicly available AEDs are currently being put into a database and added to a logistical map. The way it works is, if you're in need of an AED, you check your AED locator for the nearest one in your area that's been cataloged and is ready for use. As more and more are added to the database, more and more will be available when nearby emergencies occur, saving time and lives.

Landline Phones and VOIP

Voice-over IP applications and phones have become extremely popular. Much like cell phones, you can move them and the service from office to office or home to home, while still maintaining the same phone number and account.

However, if you moved and failed to register your new location or update your account with the new information, calling 911 will be useless. The dispatcher will have no way of knowing where you're calling from.

With landlines there's also a nuance to consider, as it pertains to offices. In most offices or businesses, there's usually an outbound number that must be pressed to get an outside line. In an emergency, when heads can be a bit scrambled, or for visitors who may not know that number, it's a good idea to write it down and display it prominently at every phone.

Technology is great when it helps and when it speeds things up, like the time it takes to find an AED. But don't let it slow you down. Take the necessary steps to ensure that you're comfortable with all the technology available to you, as well as those coming around the next corner.