SciTech

iPhone app saves a life during Haiti earthquake

The earthquake in Haiti caused Dan Wooley to be trapped under rubble for days. An iPhone app allowed him to perform first aid, saving his life. (credit: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) The earthquake in Haiti caused Dan Wooley to be trapped under rubble for days. An iPhone app allowed him to perform first aid, saving his life. (credit: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

When Dan Wooley was trapped under the rubble of the Hotel Montana in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, he had just about given up hope of survival.

With the millions affected by the earthquake, it would probably take several days for someone to find him in the ruins. Wooley was fighting more than hunger, thirst, and exhaustion — he had to endure the cuts and bruises caused by the wreckage. While Wooley didn’t have a surgeon on standby, he did have what now seems to be the next best thing: his iPhone. It is no surprise that iPhones have the capability to provide an incredibly vast expanse of information because the apps (one of the signature features of the iPhone) allow one to find any kind of specific knowledge instantly.

“I had an app that had pre-downloaded all this information about treating wounds. So I looked up excessive bleeding and I looked up compound fracture,” Wooley told CNN News. Forced to be resourceful, he ripped off his shirt, wrapped it around his leg as a bandage, and then used his belt as a makeshift tourniquet. To stop the bleeding on his head, he rolled up one of his socks and pressed against it.

The life-saving app is called “Pocket First Aid & CPR” and is filled with information provided by the American Heart Association. Wooley said that the AHA’s affiliation allowed him to feel confident in the information he read. Another suggestion he took from the app was not to fall asleep, as he thought he might have suffered from shock. In response to that, Wooley set his phone’s alarm to go off every 20 minutes. When his battery power eventually drained, he had no choice but to turn his phone off. However, Wooley became so accustomed to the habitually persistent alarms that he claims he literally “had trained his body not to sleep for long periods, drifting off only to wake up within minutes.”

The self-treatment Wooley performed was undoubtedly a great help, but he could not avoid the possibility of not making it out from under the rubble. Fearing the worst was close at hand, he turned to one of the other resources with him: his journal. Shedding tears and dripping blood, Dan Wooley wrote his final good-bye to his family from under a collapsed hotel. “I was in a big accident, an earthquake. Don’t be upset at God. He always provides for his children, even in hard times. I’m still praying that God will get me out, but he may not. But even so he will always take care of you,” Wooley wrote.

But Wooley didn’t need to say goodbye; he was rescued 60 hours after the building’s collapse. However, during those two and a half days of being trapped, he went through a roller coaster of emotions. Sometimes there were rescuers talking to those trapped, but other times he and other victims waited in silence for hours on end, never knowing if they would survive until their saviors came. Eventually, though, a crew came to pull the trapped locals from the rubble to safety. Wooley, looking back, gives thanks to God, but credit is also due to that little app on his iPhone that allowed him to help save himself.

Today, the iPhone, which is equipped with its many diverse apps, has become more than just a cell phone. Many apps have been programmed for the iPhone that assist with medical emergencies. Airstrip OB is a childbirth app that sends a patient’s vitals to their obstetrician. Another app, called CPR & Choking, allows users to determine if others have life-threatening conditions, and if they require emergency medical care. Emergency Radio can allow the iPhone to tune into emergency radio frequencies, which would be useful in any public emergency situation. There are even apps developed for first aid for pets — nothing is left out when it comes to iPhone apps.