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New STARS app calls for help 24-7

Smartphone app ideal for those working alone and in remote locations, say STARS officials

A new smartphone app won’t make harvest safer, but it could make it easier to get help if emergencies occur.

Farm workers who are working alone in remote locations now have access to a new technology developed by Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service (STARS).

SOLUS™ is a new smartphone app that enables a person to receive 24-7 emergency assistance anywhere in Canada where a cell signal can be received.

When activated, the paid service connects the individual with a live person in the STARS Emergency Link Centre (ELC).

STARS notifies the user’s pre-defined emergency contacts, while at the same time dispatching the necessary emergency response. Mapping software provides the location of the person in trouble.

The integration with STARS’ Emergency Link Centre is what sets it apart from other apps that monitor individuals.

“The difference in this membership-based service is that when you activate the button you are connected directly to Emergency Link Centre that then connects you to the 911 call centre in your area and to emergency service personnel if that’s what you require,” said Grant Therrien, base director for STARS in Manitoba.

“It’s certainly not a way to bypass 911. It’s more of an enhancement.”

An additional feature of the service is STARS’ Neighbour Helping Neighbour safety network, which can include others the user wants notified in an emergency. They can often get there before emergency services and can provide a first line of assistance. SOLUS™ users are encouraged, though not required, to enrol in the program.

SOLUS™ was developed as a personal version of the safety and monitoring services STARS offers larger companies, among the 4,000 registered sites with its Emergency Link Centre.

“Our goal for this app is the same as always… to help someone on what is likely their worst day, possibly saving their life,” said STARS’ director, business development, Erin Sharp.

The app is suitable for anyone working, travelling or playing alone in rural or dangerous environments, where medical assistance may be far away and difficult to connect with.

The word solus is derived from the Latin word meaning “alone” or “unaccompanied.”

STARS understands the agricultural workplace very well and sees this as an important safety tool for farmers, Therrien said.

“We are hopeful that this is something that will meet the need in this industry and others who work alone and in remote areas who want a quick solution to activate some help,” he said. “We’ve already started responding to unfortunate incidents related to that sector. We just want producers to be safe and know we’re there if something happens.”

Users can subscribe online for $9.99 per month and download the app from iTunes and Google Play stores.

For more information visit the SOLUS emergency response app page on the STARS website.

About the author

Reporter

Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.

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