Free software can help first responders find you faster


Not only does RapidSOS improve your location accuracy, it lets you share vital information like your drug allergies and history.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Calls to 911 can be chaotic and confusing for those on both ends of the phone.

“One of the biggest sources of confusion for us is the exact location of the callers,” said Des Moines Fire Captain Chris Clement.

Finding the caller is not always easy for first responders. Cell phones do not always provide accurate information. In other cases, callers may not know exactly where they are.

“Now you have to wait for the 911 dispatchers to return the call to the caller and try to get a better location. It’s very frustrating for everyone involved,” Clement said.

It’s there that RapidSOS comes to the rescue. The software is free and allows users to enter basic information as well as details such as pre-existing conditions or drug allergies.

“You fill in that information, your emergency contacts, and then that profile will show up on the dispatcher screen along with the emergency profile you have,” Polk County Emergency Management Coordinator Tracey Bearden said. 911.

If you are registered with RapidSOS and call 911, the information you entered will be shared instantly with dispatchers. The technology will zero in on your exact location, even giving first responders an idea of ​​what floor you’re on.

“We all know what it’s like to lose serve or have really poor serve,” Clement said. “Well, it also affects your GPS position. It will improve it considerably. Maybe even to the point where we can determine your altitude, which would help us if you are in a high-rise building, what floor are you on .”

“More than about 70 percent of dispatch centers in the state of Iowa have this technology,” Bearden said. “And over 5,000 PSAPs across the country have this technology, so when you travel statewide or even outside the state of Iowa, your profile is going to follow you, which is huge. “

Bearden says domestic violence survivors can write the word “domestic” before their name when signing up and add any other vital information in the medical section that they think would be helpful to dispatchers. This way, if the person calls and cannot speak, the dispatchers will have a better understanding of the situation.

You can find more information on RapidSOS here and find a link to register here.


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