The Good Samaritan App

Do you trust your smartphone to save your life, or do you put your faith elsewhere?

Posted in , Sep 22, 2014

Daniel Kessel

Today’s guest blogger is assistant editor Daniel Kessel.

You use your smartphone for more than just phone calls: looking up directions, shopping online, keeping up with family and friends via social media–you name it, there’s an app for it. But what if you were having a medical emergency? Would you trust your phone to save your life?

I’m both skeptical of the idea and intrigued by it. Last week I came across an article about the GoodSAM App, a new service in England designed to do just that–help save lives.

Named after the famous parable in Luke, the app connects emergency victims with nurses, doctors, and other trained responders in the immediate vicinity to help deliver aid in less time than it takes for an ambulance to arrive.

The app’s creators say that during a medical emergency such as cardiac arrest or diabetic shock, bystanders can press the app’s “help” button, which automatically contacts emergency services, Britain’s version of 911.

Then, using GPS technology, the service pings nearby medics who have registered with the app, sending out the location of the emergency to those who happen to be close by.

Clearly, the app was created with the best of intentions. Those first few minutes of an emergency can make the difference between life and death. I’ve got my reservations, though–what if the app didn’t load quickly enough, or my phone happened to get spotty internet service right then?

I couldn’t help but think of the Mysterious Ways stories I’ve read where people in danger have received almost instantaneous help from rescuers who were in the right place at the right time.

Like the story of Vincenzo Parisi from Daleville, Alabama. His love of early-bird yard sales brought him to the perfect spot one morning when he suffered from a sudden heart attack–right in front of an ambulance.

Or the 18-month-old baby in Paris whose dangerous play close to an open window led to his six-story fall…right into the hands of a particularly well-qualified stranger.

Or Alison Price of Sarasota, Florida, who ran into her friend Josephine at a rest stop over 200 miles from home, just in time to help save her life.

Do we need a new app to connect us with Good Samaritans? Seems like there’s already an app for that—no smartphone necessary.

How have you found help when you needed it most? Tell us your story.

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