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The RapidSOS Impact: Helping First Responders Save Lives

by | All, Public Safety

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The RapidSOS emergency response data platform helps first responders around the world access life-saving data from connected devices, smartphones, and more during emergencies. This data helps them get on scene faster, equipped with better intel to save lives and protect communities. 

We’re humbled every day to hear stories of first responders using their ingenuity and RapidSOS technology to make a difference in their communities. 

RELATED: Learn how RapidSOS helped Orleans Parish Communications Center Locate a Caller

Providing location for rescue

When RapidSOS started building public safety technology, emergency communications centers had extremely limited abilities to access location data from mobile devices. If an emergency call did not come in from a landline phone, 911 centers could only access the GPS coordinates from the nearest cell tower, which could be miles away from the actual location. 

Today, with the emergency response data platform, first responders have access to device-based location data from over 350 million devices, including iPhones, Androids, SiriusXM CVS-enabled vehicles, and more. This location data helps them to locate people in distress, whether it’s a lost hiker in the woods, or someone trapped in a sinking boat in the middle of the night.

IMPACT HIGHLIGHT: Rock County, WI Hikers

When Caroline and Arun Israel wandered off a trail in the town of Milton, WI, they found themselves in treacherous terrain. Swampy ground, thick underbrush, and a rapidly approaching sunset made their journey back on trail even more difficult. 

When they called 911 for help, telecommunicator Matt Bender was able to assist them by tracking their location as it updated on a satellite map of his agency’s territory through RapidSOS’s Jurisdiction View. He cross-referenced a trail map to help guide them back on trail to safety. “If I wouldn’t have had RapidSOS, I have no idea what I would have done,” remarked Dispatcher Bender.

RapidSOS provides data for over 250 million emergencies annually, helping first responders cut down response times and locate callers even when they don’t know where they are. 

Assisted calls from connected and wearable devices

The emergency response data platform links connected devices such as panic buttons, wearable technology, and more directly to first responders during emergencies. This function is critical in situations where someone can’t reach or access his or her phone. Whether they’ve taken a hard fall off their bike or feel too threatened to have an extended conversation with a 911 telecommunicator, apps and wearables can be the difference between life and death in many situations.

IMPACT HIGHLIGHT: Nebraska Farmer Falls from Ladder

This past June, Jim Salsman, a 92-year-old farmer from Grant Nebraska, fell from a ladder while attempting to secure a grain bin from pigeons. He shattered his hip upon impact, and had left his phone in his truck several hundred feet away. 

Luckily for Jim, his Apple watch automatically detected the hard fall and sent an alert to the local fire department. Using location data delivered from his Apple Watch through RapidSOS, first responders found Jim and were able to rescue him with ease. Without this feature, Jim  may not have been able to reach his phone to call for help.

As wearable devices increase in popularity, direct links from devices to public safety can make an impact  on emergency outcomes. These devices collect valuable and potentially life-saving data, such as  biometrics and vital signs, that can be synced with phones or databases that include emergency contacts and profile information. When these devices are used to call for help, they can share data that can get first responders on scene faster.

Disaster response and relief support

When natural disasters strike, public safety agencies play a crucial role in responding to calls for help, saving lives, and restoring normalcy. When a hurricane, wildfire, or even a pandemic disrupts the flow of communication and emergency resources, RapidSOS provides first responders with an IP-based backup that’s reliable even when the phone lines go down or when there is a 911 outage. 

So long as there’s power, RapidSOS can help first responders identify, locate, and access additional information about callers and their emergencies. This is especially important when call volumes are higher than normal – this data helps them triage, coordinate responses, and efficiently allocate resources during natural disasters.  

IMPACT HIGHLIGHT: Florence County Communications and Hurricane Sally

Florence County, SC saw call volumes double as Hurricane Sally passed through, bringing down enough water to sweep away cars. Luckily, the communications team was able to manage the influx of calls thanks to RapidSOS. By seeing all 911 calls appear on the satellite map call takerscould track emergencies by clusters, assign resources, and guide lost callers to safety. According to Levi James, Florence County Emergency Management’s public information officer, “We were able to maintain control of the situation and also that we were able to use the resources we had: our RapidSOS system.”

Becoming RapidSOS Ready to save lives

By sharing data through our emergency response data platform with first responders, RapidSOS is able to support almost 5,200 emergency communications centers around the world. With over 12,000 first responders trained on our technology, through over 7,000 hours a year spent learning, teaching, and connecting with our public safety heroes, RapidSOS is proud of our impact and grateful to assist in this life-saving mission.

Upgrading the outdated emergency call infrastructure is no easy task. But with the help of our partners certified as RapidSOS Ready, we’re answering the call to get first responders the right data at the right time.   

It’s no wonder that, in a survey of over 1,000 first responders, we found that 92% of dispatchers believe that receiving  additional information from RapidSOS speeds up the emergency response process. More informed first responders that get on scene faster to the precise location of an emergency have a huge impact on emergency response. The more RapidSOS Ready devices, agencies, and people there are, the more impactful it’ll be.

Will you become RapidSOS Ready? Talk to an expert today.