Mobile app ensures users can contact emergency services on Android and iPhone
A new Android and iPhone app called Distress Signal has been launched for users travelling to foreign countries. Using SMS and GPS services, it makes contacting the emergency services as quick and easy as sending a text message.
The new app means that no matter where they are in the world, people can alert the emergency services of their problem. It sends an SMS containing their location, name, blood group and any allergies (which are entered on registering the app) so that the right help can be sent.
It was created by David Nurse, managing director of Mesh Trading, after he fell ill while on holiday in Venice. Fortunately, he was travelling with a friend who was able to get him to a hospital, but as Nurse had no idea of exactly where he was, couldn't speak Italian and didn't know the number to call for an ambulance, he could have been in real trouble.
'I realised that millions go abroad each year but wouldn't know what number to call if they fell ill or were in an accident,' Nurse explained. 'Time is of the essence in an emergency, and if you don't speak the language or know where you are, even if you get the number you might not be able to explain your situation. That's why I came up with Distress Signal. I realised that we could use the emergency SMS service developed for those with hearing problems to make it quick and easy for anyone to alert the police, ambulance or fire brigade. It means you don't waste time and get help quickly.'
In just a few clicks, users can select which service they require and send a text to the control centre asking them to send help.
The Distress Signal app is available in all countries in their native language and the SMS is translated for the country you are in when sent to the emergency services. By using GPS technology it can send your exact location, and tells the emergency operators your name, blood group and allergies, which are entered by the user at registration.
It also gives users the options to call the emergency services directly, and contains a wealth of first aid information from the British Red Cross on everything from bites and burns to strokes and CPR. For frequent travellers there is a first aid kit checklist of the things they should aim to carry with them, and the app also includes a torch feature, alert siren and locations of the nearest hospitals and police stations.
The texting feature currently works in the UK, Ireland, China, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Philippines and Iceland. It will be available across the US and Europe as each country updates its emergency SMS service.