Hidden iPhone feature could save your life

Posted at 10:00 PM, Mar 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-01 23:38:12-05

A feature that could help save your life is hidden in your cell phone.  It's a medical checklist that can eliminate a lot of guesswork during an emergency, but as the I-Team found out, not all first responders know about it.

Medical ID can provide live saving information to first responders, and because of this story some local rescue crews are now changing the way they train.

Lifestar EMS responds to a call for an unconscious female at Little Swiss. In this case the EMTs don't know much because the woman can't talk.  "It's a lot of detective work," they tell us.  Unless the patient has a cell phone and knows about a medical checklist, that gives rescue crews a place to start.

This is actually not a real scenario. It's a training run for these EMTs.  New to the drill is checking a patient's phone for Medical ID.  "We can skip by things that we might not think will be an issue and kind of prioritize our assessment,"  Advanced EMT, Joel Porter tells us. 

Medical ID is a feature tucked away in the iPhone's health app.  Once you set it up, first responders can get to it through the emergency screen - even if your phone is locked. 

Harry Castaldo is never without his cell.  If there's ever an emergency, his seafood allergy is listed in his Medical ID, something that only took a few minutes to set up.

Harry also filled in his height and weight, his blood type and the medications he's taking. All valuable information if you know it's there.

But not everyone does.  Medical ID was not on the radar of the Milwaukee Fire Department until we called.  We rode along with Deputy Chief Aaron Lipski as crews responded to 911 calls across the city.  In one scenario first responders weren't getting much from the patient.  Having a basic medical checklist might have cleared things up.  "You can glance down that screen and in about 5 to 10 seconds you have all the critical information you need," Chief Lipski explains. 

Several MFD firefighters have run across Medical ID.  Lieutenant Robert Grudzina says it saved time in an emergency.  "I didn't have to do any guessing. It was as straight forward as it can get." 

A better assessment in the field can also help in the emergency room.  New technology that can play an important role when it comes to saving a life because any information is good information.