Text by

Alexis GIZIKIS
Project Manager | European Emergency Number Association – EENA112

A previous article describing the WA E112 service talked about the need of emergency responders to receive the caller location when an emergency call is placed.

A straightforward way that emergency services could resolve the caller location issue to some extent was to implement an emergency app. Emergency APPs usually provide a “speed dial” button to 112, while the caller location is sent from the handset to the emergency call centre. The improved location accuracy of the handset enabled emergency services to locate callers more quickly and accurately, and citizens to receive better emergency service. Based on data from the 2019 report on Public Safety Answering Points Global Edition, 40 smartphone applications are used in 19 EU member states.

While caller location has been the main driving force for the development of emergency apps, the app deployments have also brought opportunities to provide first responders with additional data such as images, videos, or medical data. Medical data is thought to provide first responders with increased awareness and has raised the question of whether the use of this data can make emergency response more effective.

Out of the 40 apps identified in EU member states, 6 apps provide emergency call centers with medical data. The medical data include known medical issues that the user has entered in the app, e.g. heart problems, allergies to medication, epilepsy, diabetes, etc. No real time data is provided and currently no other application or device has been identified in Europe providing real time data to emergency services. WA is planning to include data from the WA sensors in the emergency message generated by the E112 service.

In early May 2020, Apple released a beta iOS version including a new feature to share the caller’s medical ID with emergency responders when an emergency call is placed[1],[2]. The articles covering the new feature describe it as an attempt to help emergency responders who are overloaded during the COVID-19 pandemic, by making it easier and quicker to share health information. Τhe increased use of such devices can achieve wide provision of medical data to emergency responders and it will be useful to understand the value and impact of this data in emergency response from a research and development perspective.

(Photo by Zhen Hu on Unsplash)


[1] https://www.cnet.com/news/apple-will-let-you-automatically-share-your-medical-id-info-with-first-responders/, last accessed 11 May 2020

[2] https://www.engadget.com/apple-ios-share-medical-id-during-emergency-calls-204858704.html, last accessed 11 May 2020

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