Yesterday morning the husband of one of my wife’s friends had a heart attack. He was alone, but managed to dial 911 and paramedics and a fire truck reached him in time. He’s in an IC unit in guarded condition today.
But his wife was unaware of his condition until late in the afternoon. Medical personnel attempted to reach her via his cellphone (which he used to call 911) using the number labeled “Wife” but were thwarted in their efforts because she did not answer. She’s a manager in a large retail company and seldom answers her personal cellphone; all calls deferring to “voice-mail”. How would you like to open that voice-mail on the way home from work?
We’ve all allowed this to happen; too busy to answer a call knowing that we will get the message at some point in the day when we have time.
But what if time ran out? As it almost did for this woman’s husband.
Of all the features and apps available on cellphones perhaps a universal, industry-wide, “Emergency Alarm Tone” should be adopted that would over-ride voice-mail alerting the owner that something more than a “typical” message was incoming; think personal “OnStar” system. Yeah, the kids might abuse the feature when they have a minor “emergency”, but that’s up to the parents to thoroughly explain.
It seems, to me anyway, that phone “technology” is currently directed more toward entertainment than personal communications and basic product interaction.
I don’t know how widespread this ever got, but a few years back I was directed by a friend to enter a number in my cell phone labelled “_ICE”. The underscore ensures that it will be at the very top of the list in the phone and the I-C-E stand for “In Case of Emergency”.
I wonder if one workaround for thsi problem would be to have a coupel of different “_ICE” numbers. For example, “_ICE -01” would call the personall cell phone, “_ICE-02” would call the work cell phone, “_ICE-03” would call the pager or other phone line. That way the emergency responders have at least a few alternatives to try from if the personal cell number doesn’t work.
But I can’t imagine it would be too much to come up with a more formal app or feature that could be a standard in all cell phones to notify the owner that there is an emergency requiring immediate response / attention. They did something similiar with requiring all cell phones to be traceable by law enforcement / emergency responders via GPS (or whatever, I don’t know the specifics).
My Samsung phone has In Case of Emergency as the first option on Contacts, and you can select any number of contacts, and list 3 notes of personal info (blood type, allergies, birthdate, name, etc.)
However, that doesn’t address the problem listed above: making sure that person doesn’t screen the phone call. On this same phone, you have to physically hit end to hang up a 911 call, otherwise it stays connected if you flip it closed. I’d think the technology is there to make a universal loud emergency ringtone on any phone, and it should be done in my opinion.