5 On-Demand Apps for Emergency Services

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In a true emergency, most people know to dial 911. But there’s a world of difference between an event that requires an immediate response from the police or fire department, and a personal emergency that’s less life-and-death. Entrepreneurs in the hyperlocal space are betting that they can make it easier for consumers to access the right types of help in urgent situations using the same mobile on-demand technology as ride sharing services and food delivery apps.

More than half (53%) of smartphones owners have used their devices in emergency situations. While dialing 911 is the correct response when major emergencies occur, it isn’t always appropriate for lesser events, like flat tires or minor medical injuries. For events that are urgent but not life threatening, a host of specialty on-demand apps are looking to fill the void. Here are five examples of on-demand apps that consumers can use in emergencies.

1. Call9: An on-call solution for emergency medicine
Call9 is an on-demand app that connects patients in urgent situations with emergency trained physicians. The app’s founders say patients in need can connect with ER doctors faster through the app than by dialing 911. Rather than waiting 15 minutes or more for an ambulance to arrive, Call9 users are connected immediately with on-call ER doctors via video chat. These doctors can assess the emergency, instruct people at the scene on how to administer basic medical procedures, and order ambulances if necessary. Call9 is targeting nursing homes, schools, and hotels. The service charges a basic subscription fee for partnering facilities, with additional charges per patient.

2. Urgent.ly: Automatically detecting crashes and other urgent events
Stranded motorists can use Urgent.ly to order tow trucks and vehicle service providers through their smartphones. The on-demand app provides emergency assistance to drivers who need fuel, jump starts, or tow trucks. Urgent.ly finds the closest service provider and pushes real-time arrival updates through a map in its mobile app. It also offers an accident detection feature, which alerts users when Urgent.ly detects that an accident has occurred and also notifies loved ones about the event. Roadside assistance costs $75. Tiered pricing is available for towing, starting at $99.

3. Stat: Dispatching ambulances for people in need
Stat offers a way for its users to order medical transports from their mobile devices. Originally marketed at healthcare professionals, Stat can also be used by people requesting medical assistance for their family members. Users can request assistance from a doctor, CNA, HHA, or a medical transport. Once the request has been made, users can watch in real-time as the healthcare professional or ambulance makes its way to the loved one’s residence. Pricing for Stat varies, however users are provided with receipts with all medical details as soon as their services have been completed.

4. LifeLine Response: Summoning 911 responders in emergencies
LifeLine Response is a personal safety app that’s popular on college campuses. Unlike 911, which requires callers on mobile devices to identify their locations and verbally describe their emergencies, LifeLine alerts the proper authorities automatically when it detects that users are in danger. LifeLine users “enable” the app by holding their thumbs down on their smartphone screens when they’re in precarious situations, like walking alone night. If a user’s thumb comes off and a special code isn’t entered, then LifeLife will alert the authorities. It also emits a loud sound while authorities are en-route. LifeLine uses GPS coordinates to help emergency responders pinpoint its users’ exact locations. The app costs $4.99.

5. HONK: Assistance for stranded motorists
Roadside breakdowns can feel like emergencies, depending on the circumstances. HONK is a mobile app that drivers can use to quickly seek out roadside assistance. The free app connects drivers with HONK’s 35,000+ roadside assistance partners nationwide for services like jump starts, lockouts, flat tires, and towing. Drivers who use the app avoid having to search for local towing companies when they’re in unfamiliar areas, and they’ve provided with “guaranteed” rates. HONK says drivers generally arrive in 15 to 30 minutes. Prices start at $49.

Know of other on-demand emergency apps? Leave a description in the comments.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.