Why you need a First Aid App
First Aid skills save lives but maybe you are someone with little to no medical knowledge? Do you ever worry about being faced with a medical emergency and not knowing what to do? Perhaps you have already done a First Aid course and want to keep your first aid knowledge fresh in your mind. If any of these apply to you then downloading First Aid app should be the next thing you do. You could save a life, maybe your own.
In 2010, Dan Woolley, and American aid worker did just that. Not long after he downloaded a First Aid app, he found himself trapped in a building under piles of rubble in the wake of an earthquake. Injured, alone and in the dark, he used his First Aid App to learn how treat his wounds and survive for 60 hours until he was eventually rescued from the ruins of the building he was in.
If you think that being an ordinary Brit working in an office and travelling to work on public transport means that you don’t need one, think again.
In January 2017, Sir Keith Porter, a renowned Professor of Trauma Medicine at The University Hospital Birmingham, called for the British public to be trained in First Aid. Sir Keith worked with a team of medics, military and app developers to create CitizenAID, an app designed to help “empower the public” to be safe and save lives in case of a terror attack. In this article we review CitizenAID and four other leading First Aid apps.
CitizenAID has been designed to educate people on what to do in case of a terrorist attack or major incident while waiting for emergency services to arrive on the scene. The developers of this app have endeavoured to bring tried and tested survival strategies from the battlefield to everyday people.
The CitizenAID website documents the history behind the app which started when Captain Tim Hodgetts wrote Self-Assessment in Immediate Medical Care based on his experiences in a British Military hospital in Hannover from 1988 to 1990. He subsequently worked with Professor Porter to develop numerous seminal texts on Major Incident Management and Support which have delivered widely adopted as the official standard for assessment, communication and management of battlefield casualties by institutions such as the British Military to NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). The CitizenAID founders have since collected numerous accolades for their tireless innovation in this field.
Their website states that the key aim of the CitizenAID app is: “to ensure that casualties with similar injuries in the civilian setting can receive the same opportunity for optimal outcome through early intervention by the public”. The motto used for a lot of their social media work is “Be Prepared Not Scared”. We think this is a brilliantly democratic empowering message that applies to all first aid training.
The content contains evidence based systems that distill the combined experiences of leading figures in Major Incident Management across Trauma and Defence Medicine. Despite the complexity of the scenarios covered, the information is very accessible and broken up by relevant and helpful illustrations.
This app includes instructions for dealing with multiple casualties from shootings, stabbings or a bombing. It specifically covers how to treat and stop bleeding, how to assess and help an unresponsive person and how to treat burns.
It emphasises personal safety whilst assessing casualties, giving tips like ensuring your telephone is on silent. It also covers communication with emergency services in more depth than many other apps. For example, it has a detailed screen on what to cover when calling 999 during a maj
or incident: you include your name and number, the situation, the location, the injured numbers
and what emergency services are already present. These are summarised in a memorable mnemonic: SLIDE. Similarly, hand-over of casualties is also covered in detail using the mnemonic MIST: mechanism, injuries, signs and treatment. The MIST framework taught to the public in this app has been used as the standard for patient handover used by NATO since 2006.
Importantly the content is available without an internet connection.
Version and Availability
Version 1.0 was posted on the app store in December 2016. This was followed by a version 1.1 which includes jump links to the Prepare or Start menus. Version 1.0.8 was subsequently posted 25th May 2017. This is the third and current iteration of the app. It was updated to include instructions for a United States audience.
It is compatible with the iphone, iPad and iPad touch, requiring an iOS 8.0 or later.
CitizenAID is also available for Android phones via Google Play. It requires Android 4.0 and later. The current version of the app available is 184.108.40.206. Previous Android version information was not available at the time of writing this review.
The download size stated for Android is 26.25MB. On iTunes the download size is stated as 19.5MB. You may require more memory either of these values this for the download ‘process’.
The App is free to download.
The AppStore has rated the app as suitable for ages 12 and above. This means that the violence depicted is suggestive, but of mild strength.
It has a PEGI (Pan European Gaming Information) rating of 3. This means that the content is deemed suitable for all ages due to the fact that violence is depicted in a cartoon-like form with no sounds or pictures that are likely to scare younger children. As you would expect for a project headed by a knight of the realm.
At the time of review, Google Play has 432 reviews, 88.4% of reviews are 4 or 5 out of 5 stars giving an average of 4.5 stars for this app. Most people described the app in glowing terms. However, we found that both positive and negative reviews were critical of the user interface, particularly the navigation or problems with their phone “freezing”. Some people describe their phone as being “taken over”, leaving them unable to make calls whilst others reference this problem and explain that scrolling “drown from the top” of your Android screen will resolve the problem. These highlight a lack of intuitiveness to the navigation. Future versions may resolve these. It is also unclear whether these issues are specific to particular Android phones. This data was not available when we reviewed this app.
The iTunes AppStore had 53 reviews at the time we reviewed this App. 52% of reviewers gave CitizenAID 4 to 5 stars (out of 5). Once again, the content is applauded but the navigation and lack an intuitive user interface is criticised by positive and negative reviewers. Additional criticisms from the iTunes reviews include the lack of touchable zooming.
Website and contact
The CitizenAID website offers additional information on the CitizenAID app and initiative.
Although CitizenAID is a charity operated by the world renowned Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, the physical office for the initiative is based in Halifax and can be contacted via telephone on: +44(0)121 794 2456. Their contact email is email@example.com.
Summary on CitizenAID
The content and systems contained in the CitizenAID app are clearly of the highest caliber with a very important aim. The information is evidence based and has been tested in the toughest battlefields of the world. It seems that the next frontier for CitizenAID is user interface and experience. Both need updating for improved navigation and and usability for the aim of the app to be achieved.
2.The British Red Cross First Aid App
The British red cross currently has 5 apps available for download: the first aid app, the baby and child first aid app, the emergency app, the pet first aid app and the red cross publications app.
This review covers the First Aid app only (and thereby excludes the baby and child, emergency, and pet first aid apps). This review also excludes the Amazon Echo First Aid app.
British Red Cross’ stated mission as helping “people in crisis, whoever they are, wherever they are”. As such, it was inevitable that this large and historically prominent humanitarian organisation would extend into the smartphone sphere. This app takes them closer than they have ever been to the person in crisis in their moment of crisis: the palm of their hand. And from there, they have continued to deliver by teaming up with
a Bournemouth based mobile app development company called 3 sided Cube.
This First Aid app covers 18 relatively common emergency scenarios from severe winter weather, road traffic collisions, to severe allergic reactions or diabetic emergencies. The text and headings for each emergency are all very clear, detailed and well signposted.
The content is also delivered in a pleasant variety of formats. The app includes animations, checklists, expert tips, and interactive quizzes linking to social media. Information on the wider works and courses of the British Red Cross is also included.
The interactive, multimodal (videos, illustrations, text) and social integration offered by this app represents exactly what modern smartphone users tend to expect from apps these days. Moreover, it helps to maintain engagement with the app, enhancing user learning and retention of potentially life saving tips.
In the past, users have also been incentivised to learn and do quizzes that have earned them discount vouchers to face-to-face courses. We feel this helps build continuity between the smartphone First Aid and ‘real world’ First Aid helping. This model converts intentions and knowledge into action through the now popular ‘gamification’. It also emphasises the breadth and depth of detail that the British Red Cross and 3 Sided Cube have paid attention to in developing their First Aid app.
Whilst researching the making of this app, we found that 3 Sided Cube and the British Red Cross also enlisted the help of a Behavioural Research company called What People Want Limited.
On their website, development of this app is featured as a case study in how to use focus group usability testing in multiple rounds.
The content is available without an internet connection. As with CitizenAid, this is an essential feature for emergency apps that would be used in
Version and Availability
The British Red Cross First Aid App was first posted on the iTunes AppStore in December 2011. Since then, there have been 9 more versions of this app. These have included updates for minor bug fixes, addition of iPad compatibility and iOS updates. The hospital finder was removed in April 2015. Version 2.3.0 is currently available from the iTunes AppStore. It has been updated to support larger devices.
The current version available for Android is v2.0.1. The app content and minor bug fixes were last updated on 7th March 2016. The Google Play website states that the system requirements for this app are Android 2.2 or upwards. However, the additional information states that Android 4.0.3 is required. We are currently seeking further clarification on this.
The download size stated for Android is 40MB. On iTunes the download size is stated as 62.7MB. These figures are relatively large. You may also require more memory to be available than quoted during the “process” of downloading the app.
The App is free to download. It is ad-free and spam free.
The AppStore has rated the app as 4+. This represents a category where ‘no objectionable material’ is contained in the app making it suitable for perusal by ages for and above.
It has a PEGI (Pan European Gaming Information) rating of 3 (see note above for further description of this).
The British Red Cross First Aid app has proven to be very popular with UK smartphone users, reaching 1 million downloads as early as September 2012.
At the time of review, this app boasts 4,794 reviews on Google Play. An impressive 94% of these are 4 to 5 star ratings giving this app an average of 4.7 stars.
Only 6% of users have reported a neutral or negative experience with this First Aid app. It has been hard to identify these due to the sheer volume of glowing reviews. We found that the majority of negative reviews were very early on in this app’s history between 2011 and 2014. The commonest complaints related to information being app speed, information being too basic and the now removed hospital finder feature. Many of the bugs noted by reviewers have been fixed in subsequent versions of the app.
The newer improvements suggested within positive reviews constitute ‘finessing’ points where the app already performs at a good level, but could cater for more niche user needs. For example, one user recommended setting up notifications to remind them to review their knowledge as they found they forgot some of the First Aid that they had learnt. One more general recommendation made by an app reviewer was that the video quality could be improved. We suspect this is due to the general rise in visual display standards, however we expect there would a trade off between display quality and memory usage.
The iTunes AppStore have 2,963 reviews for all versions of the British Red Cross First Aid at the time of review. 92% of reviewers gave 4 to 5 stars (out of 5). Once again the complaints tended to be on finer points such as phrasing of instruction, lack of coverage of niche topics (such as wilderness First Aid) and updated features that have stopped the tendency to “crash” or freeze.
Our review of the smartphone user experience as indicated by GooglePlay and iTunes reviews has highlighted the instrumental importance of App developers responsiveness to behavioural data. As previously mentioned, developers 3 Sided Cube and behavioural researchers (What People Want) used focus group usability testing to improve this app and it shows.
Website and contact
The British Red Cross have have a dedicated First Aid Training website where you can also download the app and look at the availability and location of their various First Aid courses across the United Kingdom.
The contact numbers for the British Red Cross First Aid Training team are as follows:
Workplace enquiries: 0844 871 8000*
Public enquiries: 0344 412 2808.
An additional number is given at the top website: 0845 508 3856*.
*Calls to these numbers cost 7p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge.
Alternatively, you could email using their online contact form.
Their First Aid Training website is very user friendly if you require further information.
Perhaps have been wowed by the British Red Cross First Aid App and you have an app idea that you would like to get made to that standard, then you can contact 3 Sided Cube via telephone on 01202 611 612 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Their office address is
300 Poole Road
If you area web developer in search of a Behavioural Research company What People Want Limited, then their primary means of contact appears to be via the contact form on their website (whatpeoplewant.com). Their contact number is not publicly available online. The company is based in Reading. Their address is:
16a Bridge Street
Summary on British Red Cross
The British Red Cross First Aid App is available for iPhone and Android. Its content and navigation have been designed to an high standard. Content delivery is approached in a variety of engaging and novel ways such as videos, tips and quizzes. These elements appear to have contributed to the consistently high reviews ratings: 93% of their 7,757 reviews across iPhone and Android are 4 stars or above (out of 5). Thus the user interface and experience has ben shown to be intuitive, engaging and reliable.
3.The St John’s Ambulance First Aid App
The App Store description states: “St John Ambulance is determined that no one should die because they needed first aid and didn’t get it.”
This app is aimed at preventing such a scenario. It is also another example of a major relief organisation inevitably and necessarily making its presence felt in the app world. The St John Ambulance currently have 4 smartphone offerings. Namely, their First Aid App, their Cyclists App and their First Aid New Zealand and Wales versions. This review covers the St John Ambulance First Aid App.
Unlike the previous app, this one appears to have been developed in-house, with no external app/web developer listed in Google Play or AppStore information.
This First Aid app covers all everyday emergency scenarios that you would expect of a First Aid app such as allergy, burns or strokes for example. The material is covered using clear and simple illustrated instructions. Unlike the previous apps, the St John Ambulance app also includes audio guides. It lacks the expert tips, animations and quizzes offered by the Red Cross app. This results in a download size that is nearly 4 times smaller than the Red Cross app, making it less likely to be on the hit list when you need to free up memory space on your phone.
The app gives the most important information in the form of up-to-date rescue protocols and very little else. Before downloading the app, the description reminds you that it is not a substitute for a real life First Aid course. By contrast the British Red Cross app store branding does not include this disclaimer or prompting.
Version and Availability
Of the big three First Aid Apps of the moment, the St John Ambulance app was first on the scene with its first AppStore posting in December 2009.
Since then, there have been 8 up dates and the current version is v1.75.
Many of the updates have been to keep content in line with European resuscitation council recommendations with a few addressing minor bug fixes and a previous issue with audio. iPad compatibility and iOS updates were made in 2010. The app is currently compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPad Touch and requires iOS 6 or later.
The current version available for Android is v1.6.8. The most recent update was November 2016. The Google Play website states that the system requirements for this app are Android 1.6 or later.
The iPhone download size is quoted as 16MB, 3.9 times less than the British Red Cross First Aid app for iPhone.
The Android download size is quoted as 8.94MB.
Once again, the actual space required for the installation process may be higher than the final download size.
The App is free to download. It is ad-free and spam free.
The AppStore has given this app a rating of 17+ due to frequent intense medical treatment information. You therefore have to be 17 years of age or above to download this app.
As for both of the previous apps, PEG rating for this app is 3+.
2,949 reviews in android, 89% of these are 4 stars and above producing an average rating of 4.5. This suggests that the additional functionality in the British Red Cross app only contributed a marginal difference in user rating/experience (0.2 stars) compared to the St John Ambulance First Aid app.
At the time of writing this review, there were only 236 ratings for all versions of the St John Ambulance First Aid app by UK users. The majority of reviews were very positive. We found 27 critical reviews. These were often dated to the pre-2015, paid versions of this app. The app is now free and is on its second up date since these critical reviews. Thus some of the calls to update guidelines have been addressed. Criticism based onprice is no longer relevant. Some users felt that the information was too basic, however we feel that for an app designed for the public with a such huge variation in knowledge, skill and learning ability, the information pitched appropriately. Too much detail in the wrong hands can cause harm, risking this runs counter to the aim of saving lives.
Overall the vast majority of users who have downloaded this app to their Android or iPhone appear to have been very satisfied with it.
Website and contact
For more information on the St John Ambulance First Aid app you can click this link.
For information on their First Aid Training Courses, click here.
Alternatively you can call their training enquiries contact number: 0844 770 4800 (Mon-Fri 8:30am-5:30pm) Calls cost 7p per minutes plus your phone company’s access charge.
For more general enquiries you can call the St John Ambulance on this number: 08700 104950 (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm) Calls cost 2p per minutes plus your phone company’s access charge.
To call their national headquarters use: 0207 324 4000 (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm).
Summary on St John Ambulance
Th St John Ambulance First Aid app is a streamlined app that has an overall user review (4.5stars) which compares favourably to the Births Red Cross First Aid app (4.7 stars). It has the added bonus of not taking up too much phone memory.