How 2 apps helped rescue Irma, Harvey victims

Posted at 8:19 PM, Sep 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-11 22:54:35-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — This is a new era in responding to emergency disasters like Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. Apps like Zello and Pulse Point help volunteers coordinate their response separate from trained emergency first-responders.

According to the CEO of Zello, his app was the number one app downloaded in Florida one week before Hurricane Irma hit. It functions like a 2-way radio, allowing individuals to ask for help and allowing people serving as dispatchers to tell volunteers where help is needed.

Citizen rescuers in Houston, used Zello to organize the response from the so-called, Cajun Navy.  The Cajun Navy rescued hundreds of people and pets from flooded homes and businesses. 

The Kansas City area launched a new app about a month ago called, Pulse Point. People who download the app get alerts when there is a medical emergency in their area. Private citizens with and without training can respond and offer assistance.

"Now, if you start interfering with law enforcement operations or fire operations
and not following directions at the scene that becomes problematic. But I think for the most part they want to do good and they want help and not hinder and that's a good thing," said Eric Winebrenner, Public Safety Program Director, Mid America Regional Council in Kansas City, Missouri.

Zello's CEO said his company is going to work with trained first-responders to facilitate communication with volunteers on his app to help both teams provide fast response to people in emergency situations.