New app puts safety info at your fingertips

Published 8:43 pm Saturday, June 30, 2012

Want to help save someone’s life? There’s an app for that.

The American Red Cross officially launched its first aid app this week, putting free and simple lifesaving information in the hands of smartphone users.

The app, which is available for iPhone and Android, gives instant access to information on how to handle the most common first aid situations and prepare for natural disasters. Users also can watch videos and take interactive quizzes on first aid knowledge.

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“By putting this app in the hands of thousands of people, we expect people to be safe with all that knowledge out there,” said Rob Shapiro, communications director for the American Red Cross Coastal Virginia Region. “Preparedness is our business, and response is our business. With preparedness, it’s all about education.”

The Red Cross is quick to stress that downloading the app is not a substitute for taking a first aid course, nor is using the app a replacement for calling 911 when the situation warrants. In fact, users can call 911 right from the app.

“Nothing replaces 911, but what this puts in your hand is a great deal of knowledge until 911 comes,” Shapiro said. “It gives you a good bit of knowledge and confidence to help people and possibly save a life. We’re real proud of this.”

In addition to first aid information, the app also is “a gateway to the entire Red Cross experience,” Shapiro said. Users can learn about volunteer opportunities, sign up for courses, learn about giving blood or make a financial donation through the app.

“If we have a few thousand in Suffolk with access to this, Suffolk will be a little bit of a safer place.”

The app’s preloaded content means that it works even when there’s no signal or an Internet connection, so it still will be useful on a camping trip in the middle of the wildnerness.

Shapiro said the organization also is working on separate apps for more comprehensive information on natural disasters.

For more information or to download the app, visit www.redcross.org/FirstAidApp.