There’s An Emergency App For That



hen you need to call 911, or if you’re in Israel, 101, it’s hard enough to convey the basic information: where you are and what the emergency is. In Israel, you can now convey that information and more with just the touch of a button.

Magen David Adom, Israel’s national emergency ambulance and blood bank service, has released an app that allows people to provide the dispatcher not only with the location of the emergency but also the patient’s preloaded medical information and a live video feed from the scene.

The idea behind the app, called “My MDA,” is that users put in their medical information when they download the app; that way it’s ready for paramedics when it’s needed. Such information includes preexisting medical conditions, current medications and even one’s most recent EKG report.

“When you push the panic button and invite an ambulance, we can see the EKG,” Ido Rosenblat, Magen David Adom’s chief information officer told The Jewish Week. “When the team comes to your apartment, they can see your last EKG and compare it with your new EKG. Think about all of those people, and how it helps them.

“It makes everything more accessible,” he continued. “We can see the location, we can see the medical history, we can make the right decision at the right time and dispatch the right ambulance to the right patient and deliver [the patient] to the right hospital.”

The app comes in six languages: Hebrew, Arabic, French, Russian, Amharic and English. A chat function allows the user to chat with the dispatcher in any of those languages, and the app translates.

The app also gives the user an opportunity to send video and photos. This allows MDA staff to make medical decisions based on visually assessing the condition of the patient, the extent of the injuries and whether medics need to wear protective gear such as filters for chemicals and smoke. The advance information also allows dispatchers to determine what type of vehicle to send: a basic life support ambulance, mobile intensive care unit, an all-terrain or armored ambulance.

“[Our command control system] is pretty unique, and [we have] advanced software that helps us to manage in the right way the resources of our organization. … It’s 1,000 ambulances, it’s almost 300 medicycles, two helicopters, 14,000 volunteers and 14,000 life guardians,” Rosenblat said.

The app was developed in-house; MDA has 35 developers on staff and develops all of its computer systems. “In our system we have solved a lot of problems that everybody deals with,” Rosenblat said. “It’s pretty unique and advanced. In my opinion it’s the most advanced command control system in the world.”

Rosenblat noted that approximately 40,000 people have so far downloaded the app. “So the system supports today, every second, more than 40,000 different devices that allow the system to know the location of the devices or the resources and dispatch the most relevant resource to the incident,” Rosenblat said. (As of last week, the number was up to 50,000, and the app now comes preloaded on all smartphones from Cellcom, a major Israeli brand.)

App users, in turn, are able to see where the emergency vehicles assigned to them are, as well as their projected times of arrival.