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Free phone app may help save lives

By Messenger Staff | Published Saturday, April 15, 2017

A new smartphone application could help save lives in Wise County by communicating its user’s exact location to 911 dispatchers.

The app, called Vital ICE, is free to download thanks to Hawkins Funeral Home owner Rob Hawkins, who said his family made the decision to sponsor the app’s cost to users.

VITAL INFO – A screenshot from the Vital ICE app shows the home screen, where medical information can be entered for first responders. At left, an automated message can be sent to emergency contacts in the event of an emergency.

“You look at effective ways to give back to the community, and this is one I couldn’t walk away from,” he said. “You get a teenager who’s in a situation where they need help but are afraid to call 911, or an older person who falls but for some reason can’t talk to the dispatcher, this can help.”

The app’s home page features a user bio, where the phone’s owner can enter their name and medical information. At the bottom is a “Tap For Emergency” button, where users can tap to either contact 911 or send a message to their emergency contact pinpointing their location.

Hawkins said first responders will often search for emergency contacts of unresponsive individuals through their phone and the app streamlines this process, in addition to giving responders needed information on the person they’re trying to save. A refrigerator magnet with room for medical information on the back is available free to Wise County residents at Hawkins Funeral Home, as well.

“One of the first things first responders will go to if a person is unable to communicate will be their refrigerator or their phone,” Hawkins said. “That’s where you’re going to find information.”

Hawkins said he’s run the plan past multiple area first responders, who all saw its merits. He said Vital ICE stickers, also available at Hawkins, can be stuck on the back of a phone to mark it as a place first responders can look for information.

Other pages on the app include first aid protocols and a place to leave notes and insurance information.

The app is free to download, but requires the user to enter passcode 5959 to become active.

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