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Mobiles in Rescue Situations

By: Thomas Muller - Updated: 12 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Mobile Phones Rescue Emergency Lifeline

Mobile phones are proving to be a vital tool in rescue situations, but there are concerns that we might be becoming too reliant on them getting us out of a fix.

The Mobile Lifeline and Mobile Phone Tracking

When the Scottish Mountain Rescue Committee released figures about its operations last year, it showed that of the 491 rescues, a remarkable 54% were initiated by mobile phones. The statistic shows that in their handy ubiquity, mobile phones have a hugely valuable role to play in rescue situations.

As well as enabling victims to make the first connection with the emergency services, they are also credited with reducing call-out times and improving casualty survival. Instructions on how to treat injuries are frequently provided by rescue teams over the phone before they are able to reach the patient themselves. They are also used to talk people down off mountains if they get lost due to bad weather or darkness, and the increasing efficiency of mobile phone tracking is enabling services to locate their emergency callers with greater ease.

Mobiles Phones to the Rescue

Stories of dramatic rescues, where the mobile phone has played a crucial role in averting tragedy, are now a familiar fixture of news reports.

Recently an Aegean holiday cruise turned sour when the vessel ran aground off the island of Santorini, leaving 1,200 tourists fearing for their lives. A massive rescue operation was initiated after one of the British passengers used their mobile phone to call their wife, who then alerted the merchant marine ministry.

When a group of mountaineers recently became trapped on a ledge in Snowdonia, the mobile phone proved to be a lifesaver not only in enabling the five climbers contact their rescuers but also in helping to locate them.

The mountain rescue team knew that the group were in trouble but the darkness and bad weather made it very difficult for them to pinpoint their exact position. Fortunately they were guided to their target with the aid of the light from a mobile camera flash. Unlike a torch light, which only shines for three metres, the flashes lit up the whole bank of fog that enshrouded the stranded mountaineers.

Abuse of Power

However, mobile phones have become such an effective means of securing help that this power is being abused by people depending on them as a first line of defence if something goes wrong.

One rescue service said that 60% of their call-outs were simply hill-walkers that had lost their way or sustained low level injuries due to fatigue. There is great irritation amongst the services about people who don’t feel the need to equip themselves adequately with essentials like a map, compass and a whistle, when they have their trusty mobile phone.

Mobile phones are invaluable when something goes horribly wrong but they are no substitute for taking the appropriate equipment and knowing how to use it effectively. Every time service recruits are called out to an unnecessary rescue situation they waste valuable money and time, which could be better spent on genuine emergencies.

Mobile Phones Saving Lives in Road Accidents

Road accidents are another area which is benefiting from the sophisticated technology of modern mobile phones. Rescue services can now send picture messages to local accident and emergency (A&E) teams direct from the scene so that they can make an early assessment of the extent of the injuries and put the appropriate medical units into action. It also helps to avoid wasting time on unnecessary call-outs.

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