Wednesday, June 25, 2014

There's An App For That!


It seems like nowadays there is mobile app for just about everything.  You want to track your daily jog, there’s an app for that.  Want to test you simulated farm skills, there’s an app for that.  Want to track your bowel movements, yes, believe it or not there’s actually an app for that.  With all of this energy, money, and resources dedicated being to creating smart phone apps it is nice to know some apps are actually useful, and could even save a life.

As an emergency manager I am often asked which mobile apps I recommend for emergency situations.  As an agency we need remain impartial, but there are a few we would recommend or I find personally interesting.  Here are some apps I found that could be helpful in emergency situations.  If you've already proven your farm skill to your friends and are tired of waging war on swine with angry fowl take a couple of minutes to check out these apps.  Please feel free to share your personal emergency related apps or share feedback on the ones I've listed here.

Red Cross Mobile Apps

Download Red Cross Apps!

Our partners at American Red Cross have a whole slough of apps just prime for your next emergency situation.  The apps offered by the Red Cross range in topic from everyday emergencies to major disasters, their Earthquake App is my "go to" earthquake monitoring source.  A number of the Red Cross mobile apps are available in Spanish.


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Say what you want about FEMA, but they actually have a pretty good  mobile app.  The FEMA App contains preparedness information for different types of disasters, an interactive checklist for emergency kits, a section to plan emergency meeting locations, information on how to stay safe and recover after a disaster, a map with FEMA Disaster Recovery Center locations (one-stop centers where disaster survivors can access key relief services) and Shelters, and general ways the public can get involved before and after a disaster.

Pulse Point Mobile App

PulsePoint enables subscribers who are CPR trained to be alerted on their Smart Phone to a cardiac arrest in a public location the same time emergency responders are notified. You only need to be willing to do “Hands-Only” CPR. According to the American Heart Association, Hands-Only CPR has been shown to be as effective as conventional CPR in the first minutes of cardiac arrest.  Subscribers can also view active fire and emergency medical incidents and monitor emergency radio traffic.  Currently PulsePoint is only available in Clark County and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue supported areas.
I've included a link above to Mashable reviewing some of the top-rated weather apps.  There are too many weather related apps to mention.  The features and dependability of the apps vary greatly.  Considering most of these apps are free I recommend you compare a couple at a time to ensure you are getting the information that matters most to you.  My current favorite weather app is WeatherBug.  Not only is it a smooth and nice looking app, but it includes resources that others don’t, just last week I used the exclusive Spark real-time lighting tracker.

Knots 3D
Knots 3D
Caution, rope required! This seems like a fun app, I just wish it was around when I was trying to master all these knots in the Boy Scouts.  Knots 3D will give you a whole new perspective on the time honored art of knot tying.  You never know when your life might depend on your ability to tie a double bight figure eight, with this app you can perfect tying complex knots in a couple of minutes.  With a total of 94 knots taught in over a dozen languages I think I might just challenge my coworkers to a "knot off".

Breaker, Breaker this app is Far Out! The Zello app turns your "smart phone" into and old-school CB style radio. You can use it one-on-one with a friend, for a live group call with your family or soccer team. The Zello app can even replace 2-way radios at work.  The free push-to-talk app for mobile devices is easy to use and just plain cool.  Even if you don't use it in a real emergency you are sure to have fun playing around with it.

Emergency Response Guide Mobile App
A fun and interestingalbeit scary app for road trips is the Emergency Response Guide (ERG) mobile app. Ever wonder what those colorful and sometimes graphic labels on semi trucks and trains mean?  Now with the ERG app you can  hold the answer to deciphering those placards in the palm of your hand.  The guidebook includes important safety information about the hazardous materials traveling down our roadways.  This is meant to be an informative and educational app, please leave the response to hazardous material spills to the experts.

As you can see there are many mobile apps that are, useful, informative, and just plane fun.  I only listed a few that I've run across myself or have heard others recommend.  Nowadays our mobile devices are perhaps our most important emergency response tool.  We have the ability to carry a wealth of knowledge in our pocket or purse and it's a matter of understanding the tools before an emergency to starring you down.  As we've become increasingly dependent on these devices I urge you to have backup supplies and a contingency plan for when your device is not available, not charged, or not connected to the rest of the world.  

As I said above we would love to hear from you about your favorite emergency or disaster related mobile apps and thoughts on the ones listed above.  

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