BOSTON — EMS professionals help the community each and every day when they respond to emergencies, manage patients in the prehospital setting, and transport patients between healthcare facilities. To perform these important tasks, EMS professionals who are new to an area need to quickly learn the locations of all local EDs, and those on long-distance transports need to know the closest ED should patients take a turn for the worse.
Outside of these traditional roles, while off call, it can be hard to direct patients to emergency care in their community. It can be even more challenging to help community members to find a nearby ED in an unfamiliar, potentially distant, location.
A helpful resource to identify EDs is the Emergency Medicine Network (EMNet)’s free smart phone app, findERnow. Using a phone’s GPS, this app helps users to find the distance and directions to the closest EDs – anywhere in the U.S. The app allows users to view nearby EDs in an interactive, easy-to-use, list format. Depending on your preference, you can sort by current driving time – which accounts for traffic – or by driving distance.
Useful for EMS professionals
New EMTs can use findERnow to become familiar with EDs in their area. One EMT user wrote about how the app was a useful training tool. “I just started working as an EMT in an area of Arizona that I am almost totally unfamiliar with. This app has helped me hit the ground running and helped me have confidence that despite my current lack of knowledge of the area … transport times to the hospital will not be delayed!”
Even for those that know their way around their city very well, findERnow can be useful to experienced EMS professionals when they find themselves working in an unfamiliar area. Another app user wrote,:“Used this app today. I am a paramedic and we were returning from a long-distance transport when a car pulled up next to us with a gunshot victim in the front seat. This app gave me the name and ability to find the closest ER.”
Useful for families and travelers
findERnow can also be helpful while traveling (alone or with family), on a vacation or simply passing through a new city. One user found the app useful while traveling. “We were on vacation in an unknown city far from home. A family member was having a serious allergic reaction … Breathing became difficult. This app showed us several ERs in the area and we got to one and after being treated aggressively tragedy was avoided.”
Another community member shared a similar experience. “[This] app may have saved my daughter’s life this evening. We were traveling out of town and needed immediate medical attention.” This community member added, “This app blows away Google or any search app.”
Another benefit for community members is that findERnow provides one touch 911 calling and can quickly find which nearby EDs have higher levels of certification, like a verified adult trauma and burn center. For a $0.99 subscription, app users can also access ED-specific pediatric information, such as if there is a pediatric trauma center, pediatric burn center, pediatric area, or pediatric emergency care coordinator.
All information in the app is collected and confirmed by researchers at EMNet, a division of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. These researchers continue to keep findERnow up-to-date as new EDs open and close almost weekly.
Consider sharing the findERnow app with your colleagues, friends, and family. With more than 5,300 EDs open in the U.S., you can continue to serve your communities and empower them to quickly find nearby emergency care – whether you are on or off call.
findERnow is available for both iPhone and Android phones. EMNet continues to develop this app and welcomes any questions or suggestions you might have at [email protected].
Krislyn M. Boggs, MPH is a senior project coordinator at the EMNet Coordinating Center. She directs the NEDI-USA study and manages the findERnow app.
Ashley F. Sullivan, MS, MPH is the Director of the EMNet Coordinating Center and a co-creator of the findERnow app.
Carlos A. Camargo, MD, DrPH is Professor of Emergency Medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Conn Chair in Emergency Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. He also is the founder/chief of the EMNet division, and a co-creator of the findERnow app.