October 16, 2018
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How to set up your phone for medical emergencies

Morgan Mitchell | BDN
Morgan Mitchell | BDN
Paramedic Jessica Pelletier shows how to use the medical ID feature that paramedics look for when assisting an unconscious patient.

MADAWASKA, Maine — Before the days of the locking cellphones, people would designate a contact in their mobiles as ICE, an acronym for “In Case of Emergency.”

Now, with all the technologies with passcodes, touch ID, face ID and even voice recognition, personal emergency contact numbers are hard to find. However, with technology problems, come technology solutions.

Medical ID from iPhone and the Contact feature in Android phones not only have a place for you to input your emergency contacts, but they also have different medical history sections to fill out in the event of an emergency where you need help but cannot communicate.

Setting up your medical ID not only makes it easier on first responders and EMS personnel, but it could also save your life.

Jessica Pelletier, a paramedic with the Madawaska Ambulance Service, says that when first responders arrive on a scene where no one knows the patient who is unconscious, then they look for an ID. While they used to only look through the wallet for identification, paramedics and EMTs can sometime now find what they need on the patient’s cellphone — if it has been set up correctly.

“With smartphones, we can look for their medical ID, if they have one set up in their phone,” Pelletier said. “It would be nice if patients filled it out.”

While the technology is fairly new, and always changing, it could take time for people to get used to it, but Pelletier also said she hopes other providers in the field will start using the feature.

For those who have a smartphone but have had difficulty setting up the feature, Pelletier suggested asking for a physician’s help or even stopping in to visit the local safety complex and asking for help from an EMT or paramedic.

Setting up your phone for a medical emergency is easier than it sounds for both Android phones and iPhones.

The applications on both types of phones have similar fields to fill in your name, medical conditions, allergies, medications, emergency contacts and blood type.

To update the medical ID for an iPhone, go to the Health app that looks like a heart. Once you select that, on the bottom of the menu, there is a button for medical ID. Select that and fill it out. In the medical ID section, fill out additional fields such as your date of birth, which is helpful for paramedics if your wallet is not around. There also is a way to sign up with the national donor registry through Donate Life to be an organ donor.

For Android, the process is a little different with a few more steps than iPhone. First, you would need to go into your contacts under the phone app. The very first contact you see will say “Me:” and then have your name and phone number listed. Select that. Then at the top of the screen, click edit and scroll down to the “emergency medical info” section. There is where you can edit the medical info fields.

Screenshot | Fiddlehead Focus
Screenshot | Fiddlehead Focus
The medical ID app on iPhone.

Under “medical notes” in iPhone and “other” in Android, Pelletier suggested still putting down if you want to be an organ donor as well as pertinent info about your children in case they might be in a car accident with you. In the latter case, paramedics could use the phone app to access necessary medical information about your children. For both iPhone and Android, Pelletier said it would be helpful to add your doctors’ numbers, especially if you see a specialist for anything.

If you are holding out on buying a smartphone, you can still be safe in an emergency by adding “ICE” in front of the name of the person in your contact list who you want called in an emergency.

To access a medical ID from the lock screen of an iPhone older than an iPhone X (otherwise, you will send an SOS to 911), click the lock button several times rapidly and select the medical ID.

To access a medical ID from the lock screen of an Android, when you go to unlock your phone, tap the emergency icon and then your name.

Accidents and medical emergencies happen when we least expect it. Make sure you are prepared.

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