The British Red Cross is using smartphone technology to put first aid skills into the hands of thousands of people.
In December 2011, the organisation launched a first aid mobile phone application that teaches people how to manage common injuries from bleeding and broken bones to head injuries and heart attacks. Since its launch, nearly half a million peo- ple in the UK have downloaded the first aid app and it has won two industry awards.
The decision to launch the app is part of British Red Cross’ overall strategy to simplify first aid learning and give everyone the confidence to step forward in an emergency. The mobility of smartphones provides a dual opportunity: on-the-spot emergency advice when it’s needed and the chance for people to browse and learn at their leisure.
The first aid app is interactive, easy-to-use and free to download. People choose which topics to focus on and video, pictures and quizzes teach key skills. An emergency section gives simple, straightforward advice, such as calling the emergency services and timers for resuscitation. Finally the ‘prepare’ section goes beyond first aid, to provide checklists for common emergency situations such as fires, floods and road traffic accidents.
Feedback from the public indicates that the app is making a real contribution to reducing vulnerability. One person commented via the ‘tell us your story’ function: “This app is great. I am a paramedic in London and I was called to a category one [life threatening] call at a school; there was a student with this app that used it to revive the patient. If this app was not out there, then there would be one less person in the world.”
The app is also increasing people’s appetite for first aid learning: mobile sign-ups to courses have increased by 47 per cent and there are more, and longer, visits to the British Red Cross first aid website since the app’s launch. Based on this success, the British Red Cross has launched a first aid app specifically for babies and children.
Now the British Red Cross, American Red Cross and the IFRC – through its Global Disaster Preparedness Centre and Global First Aid Reference Centre – are working on a universal first aid app that will put life-saving skills not just in the hands of thousands, but in the hands of millions.