Developer: Tony Williams
Price: $2.99 Download on the App Store
What are the odds that you will be in an emergency situation that could warrant instant notification to family, friends and 911 emergency responders all at once? Let’s hope the odds are low, but some app developers don’t believe in taking chances. There are a few emergency alert apps in the app store, many deal strictly in incoming alerts (code reds, national emergencies and the like), but a few, such as Silent Bodyguard, are made for sending outgoing alerts. A new emergency alert app, eMerge 911 is an emergency alert application that simultaneously calls 911 when activated and sends text messages to people you’ve listed as emergency contacts.
The eMerge 911 app is fairly simple to set up. You register the app using your basic contact info and email address and then designate up to 10 people as emergency contacts. When you designate a contact, they receive a text message informing them that you have designated them as such. Then in the event of an emergency requiring a 911 call from your phone, your contacts will be notified of an emergency by text. That’s the gist of eMerge 911, but let’s break it down.
First of all, it would be pretty much illegal to test this app in its entirety for responsiveness and reliability – after all, people can’t place unwarranted 911 calls and say “just testing.” What I can verify is that the emergency contacts are indeed notified via text message when they are added, but without placing the 911 call, it’s impossible to know what the actual emergency text would say. Like similar apps, eMerge 911 uses GPS location to give the recipients access to your approximate location at the time of the emergency.
Now, unless you’re a doomsayer it would be pretty much impossible to contemplate all the possible emergency situations that would warrant an app like eMerge 911. Could you use this app in place of OnStar in a collision? Maybe. If you had the wherewithal to find your phone, launch the app and press the 911 button. Could you use this app in place of Life Alert when you’ve fallen and can’t get up? Possibly. Again, if you have the ability to get to your phone in the first place. There are probably numerous types of emergency situations where an app like eMerge 911 could come in handy, but the limitations include the obvious – being able to find and use your phone, having cell reception at the time of the emergency, and having responsible, level-headed people on the receiving end of your emergency message.
In a nutshell, eMerge 911 has pretty limited features that are testable by the average person. Therefore, reliability is an unknown factor until it really counts. However, assuming that confirmation of emergency contacts is an indicator of reliable performance, then it works. There is a few-second delay when pressing the 911 button and a confirmation window, affording users the chance to “end call” if they accidentally push the button. As for price comparison value, eMerge 911 falls in the middle of the price range of similar apps. Of course, if it saved your life (or even a limb) in an emergency, then I guess you could say it would be priceless.