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How Will Emergency Responders Know Who to Call?

Updated October 20, 2021

Leacey Brown

SDSU Extension Gerontology Field Specialist

Written collaboratively by Lauren Pierce, former SDSU Extension Family & Community Health Field Specialist and Leacey Brown, SDSU Extension Gerontology Field Specialist.

Creating a “Medical ID” for Emergencies

We all have that person we trust most when we don’t feel well. Whether a spouse, parent, or friend, this person knows us better than anyone. They know our preferences and wants. If we were not able to speak for ourselves, how would emergency responders know how to contact the person we trust most? A great solution is to display this information from the lock screen on our phones. It is important that the information is accessible when the phone is locked so that emergency responders can see it without having to unlock the phone.

Apple iPhone Users

  • Locate and open the “Health” application –the app icon is a white square with a pink heart in the upper right-hand corner. This is a permanent app on most iPhones and cannot be deleted.
  • Press the “Next” button at the bottom of the “Welcome to Health” page. If already using the Health app, the Medical ID icon will be located in the bottom right corner (see picture below).
  • Enter the demographic information (i.e. name, date of birth, etc.) and press the red box, “Continue,” at the bottom of the screen
  • This page says “Medical ID” at the top and includes of brief description. Click the red box, “Create Medical ID,” near the bottom of the screen.
  • Enter medical information and emergency contact information and press “Next” at the top right-hand side of the page. Make sure “Show When Locked” is turned on.
  • This page displays the information that you have just entered. Check to make sure it is correct and press “done” to save at the top right-hand side of the page.

This application is nice, because it allows you to provide additional medical information such as: medical conditions, medical notes (if you have an advance directive, you should note that in this section), allergies and reactions, medications, etc. This detailed information will help emergency personnel respond more effectively.

Android, Windows, and Blackberry Users

For Android, Windows or Blackberry phone users, take a look at this helpful article: How to Add an Emergency Contact to Your Phone's Lock Screen for more information. This article also makes a great point that you can create your own ICE lock screen by simply using the “notes” application, taking a screenshot of the note, and then setting the screenshot picture as the lock screen picture. This option allows you to display tailored and specific medical conditions and/or desires. Lastly, there are some other helpful applications out there, such as the “ICE: In Case of Emergency” app, though they often come with a price. You may find that the built-in application on your phone works just as well as an additional app that you must buy. If you elect to purchase an app, be sure information is accessible from the lock screen.

No phone or smartphone? No problem!

It is still important to be ready with accessible emergency contact information. Consider creating a “wallet card” with emergency contact information and other relevant medical information. Check out the National Institute on Aging article (in the resources section, below) on advance directives. Near the bottom of the article, there is an example of an advance directive wallet card that includes emergency contact information.

The Bottom Line

So what’s the bottom line? Make emergency contacts and relevant medical information easily accessible to emergency responders! Being prepared may even ease some of our uneasiness about emergency situations.

Additional Resources:

Related Topics

Life Planning, Aging Well, Health