Life-saving app saves vital minutes in the ‘golden hour’
Effective intervention, however, is often dependent on an immediate response by emergency services. Against this backdrop, consider the fact that, in October 2016, South Africa had one ALS (Advanced Life Support) provider per 17 825 members of the South African population, compared to the norm of one paramedic per 1 358 members of the USA population and one paramedic per 2 768 members of the British population, according to the South African Private Ambulance & Emergency Services Association.
In the face of this reality, the iER (Integrated Emergency Response) mobile app was developed by Affinity Enterprises specifically to meet a critical need and give South Africans free and immediate access to the emergency response sector. The only one of its kind in the country, the iER app connects users to thousands of emergency services, including medical, land and sea rescue, roadside assistance, policing, private security, law enforcement, and others, through a centralised and dedicated 24-hour call centre manned by emergency-trained staff.
An additional valuable feature enables users to create groups for family, friends, neighbourhood watches, or other personal groups, which can be instantly messaged with vital information in the event of a traumatic incident.
The quick to install and free to use app incorporates personal details such as the user’s blood type, medical aid, a private security company, family and friends, to give the call centre instant access to vital information in the event of an emergency. Launched in 2016, the iER service and app were endorsed by Gauteng SAPS and Civilians Crime Intelligence Network (CCIN), acknowledged as “exactly what South Africa needed to prevent crime and save lives.”
Paul McNamee, GM of Affinity Enterprises, a leading South African provider of affordable insurance products, under whose auspices iER was developed, says vast research and resources were invested in developing iER, which is now South Africa’s most comprehensive emergency response service centre with a national footprint. “Unless you have a coherent disaster management process that understands what service providers are available, where they are located, how they can be used, and what their dispatch criteria are, you don’t have a viable emergency response at all. Our call centre staff are emergency trained and our network includes thousands of providers who we have signed up and who know that when we call them for a dispatch, we have verified their information and the exact location.”
The iER app features clear and appealing graphics and includes a selection of one-touch alert options which are instantly sent to the 24-hour call centre, who then quickly respond. McNamee says the subscriber base is growing steadily and at this stage, downloads are close to 92 000. “The call centre deals with about 200 legitimate alerts for which services are dispatched each week – and in April alone, our statistics show that 159 lives were saved through iER.”
Says McNamee, “We’ve had a very positive response to iER from all sides – and users have commented on the all-encompassing response network. Too often, as an emergency arises, people don’t have immediate access to the exact service provider they need. This is so much more than a panic button and it ensures that in the event of a fire, a kidnapping, a motor vehicle accident, a hijacking, potential drowning, even bullying and assault, being trapped in protest action, criminal action, or other disasters that occur too often in South Africa, help is readily available through iER.” When a service is dispatched through iER, the emergency is tracked to ensure the most appropriate intervention has been provided and specified family emergency contacts have been notified.
Get It Joburg West – November 2018