Hard to believe its a decade since being trapped in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. It taught me so much about life. How to survive just about anything. How to find what seem like impossible solutions and make them work. How a strong team is much better than any single smart mind. How to look someone in the eyes and instantly know their intentions. How to decipher the truth within a sea of misinformation and chaos. How to make a phone call when the power is dead and cell phone towers crap out.
Escaping the storm aftermath was no easy task but with the help of a smart guy named Richard Rhodes who had become my survival partner. His ideas of hitting the ATM for cash, stocking up on bleach to make water safe to use were key. Snagging a hotel hallway analog phone taught me that you can still tap into some digital phone networks long after the power has gone out.
Nearby cell phone towers remained powered from 48 to 72 hours on their own backup power which allowed for mobile connections. Had Katrina struck today and I knew there was no repair or fix to the power for weeks, I would have launched into a myriad of apps that are available today and which also could be useful in a variety of emergency scenarios.
When looking at tools we have today that could come in handy in just about any disaster, here are some making the top of the list on my iPhone and Android:
Pulsepoint app (iOS, Android)
Find someone nearby to give CPR
When that emergency call comes in your team will be ready. But what if someone was already at the scene, applying lifesaving CPR and defibrillation until the EMS team arrived? With PulsePoint, your dispatch system immediately alerts CPR-trained bystanders about a nearby SCA event through the free PulsePoint Respond mobile app, and lets them know the location of the closest AED.
Originally developed by firefighters, this inexpensive app offers a layer of security for seniors. For just $1.99, this software provides all the medical history and ID features of the Medical ID app and adds a motion sensor and alert system. The ManDown app can be programmed to look for motion at certain intervals, from once a day to every two hours.
If no movement has occurred in the designated interval, as in the event of a fall, for example, the phone makes an alarm noise prompting the phone’s owner to move the phone and “check in.” If there is no response within a predetermined interval, the phone sends emergency alert texts to contact numbers and notifies 911.
The phone also offers the security of an SOS button that can be activated from the lock screen. Once the SOS button is pushed, texts or calls are made to emergency contacts as well as 911. There is also a personal safety GPS tracker that broadcasts the phone’s location to emergency contacts and personnel once the SOS or emergency alert is activated.
Emergency Chat (Android)
Get help when you can’t call
Emergency chat can be used in any situation where speech is impossible but communication is still necessary. The splash screen has a base text that explains to the person you gave your phone to that you can’t use speech and want to use this app to communicate. The default text is aimed at people experiencing an autistic meltdown, where their speech centres stay non-functional for a while even after they’ve recovered. Both the title and text can be adjusted in the settings (accessed with your menu button or long-press) to be whatever you want the person you give your phone to to know.
Back then and now, there are so many heroes who continue to embrace New Orleans. It’s the most pointed lesson to always show up when life calls you.