This emergency app could save your life

Local first aid expert Kelly Pietsch shows how easy it is to download the Emergency Plus app for free.

PRECISELY locating oneself can mean the difference between life and death in an emergency.

The Emergency Plus app (stylised as ‘Emergency+’) is a free smartphone app developed by Australia’s emergency services and their Government and industry partners, which uses the GPS functionality already built into smartphones.

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Emergency Plus utilises a proprietary geolocation interface, known as ‘What3Words’, which is a far more user-friendly way of telling the Triple Zero operator where you can be found.

“How do you describe where you are if you are on holidays, or in an unfamiliar place?” said MidCoast First Aid trainer and owner Kelly Pietsch, also a member of the Tea Gardens Fire and Rescue and the Tea Gardens Hawks Nest Surf Life Saving Club, who has strongly recommended Emergency Plus at several recent community AED and first aid awareness presentations.

“What3Words is an easy way to communicate a precise location, as accurate as GPS coordinates, but easier to read and say, especially in an emergency.

“The world has been divided into grid squares of 3x3metres, with words assigned to each box.

“This is so much easier than rattling off a set of GPS numbers over the phone, which lets everyone easily identify their location to assist Triple Zero (000) and the mobilisation of emergency services.

“‘Emergency Plus’ is very handy to have on any phone, a free download on any device, and it piggybacks off any available network, not just the one you are usually on.”

The patchy nature of mobile coverage across the region means that, for example, an Optus phone with no network signal will utilise a Telstra or Vodafone signal if one is available, such as the Myall Park Tennis Courts, where Telstra phones registered 0-1 bars, but Optus had 2-3 due to the newer small cells on Booner St.

Users should be aware: Emergency Plus will not work in areas with no mobile network coverage, as most smartphones are not satellite phones.

Emergency Plus has also been recommended by recent meetings of the Myall Way Emergency Planning Group and NSW Services representatives, and users of the Emergency Plus app should make sure they have the most up-to-date versions on their phones.

By Thomas O’KEEFE

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