Good Samaritan App Alerts Nearby Users to Medical Emergencies

Getting immediate help saves countless lives.

Jul 25, 2019

Emergency medicine has made great advancements in saving lives, and the faster care is given, the better the outcome. Now, an app can get help to those who need it by making almost instant connections between them and medical responders.

Mark Wilson, a doctor with London's Air Ambulance Service told CBS News that he'd flown to too many medical emergencies where faster medical care could have saved lives but wasn't available. That's why he created the GoodSam app for smartphones that connects people with medical training – good Samaritans – to people who need immediate emergency medical care.

The app, which began in the UK in 2014, uses GPS to locate medics, doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals that are closest to an emergency situation. This advanced emergency mobile technology platform can be used on all smartphones and work as a platform for first aid organizations, hospitals, and emergency services.

A person in need of help or anyone who witnesses an emergency can press the app's help button that connects them to emergency services. The app's "Instant-On-Scene" technology then lets emergency services to open the caller's mobile phone cameras to instantly locate the caller and alert the closest first responder.

What's probably most amazing - through the "Instant-On-Scene" technology, dispatch controllers can get an accurate readout of vital signs - directly from the caller’s camera. The system is astoundingly accurate and can even read the vitals of several people at the same time - all through the camera.

"There are circumstances where somebody has a cardiac arrest in a coffee shop, and there is a paramedic who just happens to be sitting in the bookshop next door - who doesn't know about it," Wilson told CBS. "This app is about being able to shout through the walls, being able to say, "Can anyone help?"

GoodSam Cardiac functions as a technical platform and a community of lifesavers. It alerts people trained to use automatic external defibrillators to people having cardiac arrests nearby. The app also crowdsources where the nearest AED is located. There are now over 40,000 AED locations mapped on the site.

The company said that while the survival rate of people having a cardiac arrest episode at Heathrow airport is 80 percent, it is only nine percent for someone on a street in London. That's because there is access to AEDs and trained personnel at the airport. GoodSam Cardiac can close that gap dramatically.

The app already has over 100,000 first responders and is used by some of the largest ambulance services in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Brazil. Over 80 organizations have partnered with it, and the numbers are growing. GoodSam integrates into the services’ computer-aided dispatch to automatically trigger alerts on the app. The individual ambulance company then controls who they alert.

The app developers stress that good Samaritans do not replace ambulance services or EMTs. All medical professionals have their credentials verified before being able to register on the app but some places – like New Zealand – allows any person who self certifies that they are CPR competent to register. Make sure to check with your local area before you sign up to the app.

New technology is changing the way we do things for the better, and the GoodSam app certainly proves that. Through technology, one man's vision has become a global lifesaver.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.

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