Is your smartphone emergency-ready?

Smartphones have become an integral part of our lives. Elon Musk says that we have become cyborgs, we are just yet to realize it. I think that we should take advantage of this in medical emergencies and first-aid.

Let’s create a hypothetical situation to highlight why this is necessary. Suppose that you and a friend of yours are traveling from one city to another in your car. Unfortunately, you have a horrible car accident, use your imagination, let’s say that a tire burst caused it and you rammed a roadside tree in a rather high speed. You are in the driver’s seat and luckily you had your seat-belt on. You get some painful wounds but you are conscious. Your friend who has fainted from the shock, seems to be in a much greater predicament. You look for your phone to call an ambulance, but you find it on the floor of the car, screen shattered at one edge, you are not able to switch it on. Now you look for your friend’s Android, it’s locked but you notice the emergency button and open the the emergency dialer. You remember that 108 is the medical emergency number in India, so you call it but the phone doesn’t recognize it as an emergency number. You call 911 next, not sure if it would connect but it does (in India, this call will route to the emergency helpline ‘112’). The ambulance swiftly arrives and is taking you both to the nearest hospital.

You’re in the ambulance, the staff is doing their best to stop your friend’s bleeding. You are sitting with the staff, you are in some pain but your friend is the one who clearly needs immediate medical help. You call your own family with the ambulance staff’s phone. You still have your friend’s phone with you. You notice that in the emergency dialer, there’s an emergency information button on the screen. You open it and you find out that your friend has mentioned there his blood group and that he has no known allergies. You convey this crucial information to the ambulance staff. Your friend also listed his father as an emergency contact there and you are able to call him and inform him about the situation without having to unlock his phone. Let’s end this imaginary story on a happy note by supposing that your friend later on recovered and is now healthy and doing well.

Now the above is just one scenario. We can think of so many more such scenarios where keeping your medical info, your emergency contacts and your address accessible to anyone who has your phone, can make a difference.

Be Informed

Call to 112 or 911 will be recognized as Emergency number

Remember and at least save the emergency numbers of your country. Many countries have separate lifeline numbers. Apart from your immediate family, you can add a few such numbers as emergency contacts too.

In some Android phones, the phone manufacturer also adds SOS features. Please explore these on your own as they vary from brand-to-brand.

Fill your emergency information

Emergency info UI in my stock Android phone

As you can see above, I could even choose to tell that I want my organs donated in case something unfortunate happens to me (side note - does this remind you of an anime?). Whether people would honor this depends on everyone’s awareness that it exists. So please share this blog to your friends and loved ones! This information cannot be edited without unlocking the phone. Now you might argue that maybe we shouldn’t lock our phone but granting someone full access of your phone poses far more challenges than granting them limited emergency-use access. We use a screen-lock to protect our privacy and entering this information does not violate that in any way. I reached for my father’s phone to enter this information and to my joy, he had already entered this information.

Emergency UI on Samsung’s OneUI 3.0

Being able to save our own emergency contacts was not available in early versions of Android (I checked a phone with Android 6.0, and no option to save and access emergency info was there! Only the Emergency dialer was available). Add this to the list of reasons why you should keep your phone’s OS updated.

Once you’ve entered this info, I suggest that you do a ‘mock-run’ once. Just to affirm that you will remember this in face of a calamity (I’ve overused the term ‘emergency’ by now).

For iPhone, the process would be somewhat different, you can refer to Apple’s own support page using the link below.


For Android, if you want to read further into this:

I hope this blog was insightful. Thank you for reading. I would especially request you to share this particular blog post to as many people as you can.

What inspired to me to write about this was the recent glacier burst in Uttarakhand, India. I also remembered some absolutely wholesome and emotional scenes from an anime I had seen named Angel Beats.

Android enthusiast. IIT grad in Computer Science and Engg