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A Lifesaver in Your Pocket: How to Set Up Your Medical I.D. Profile

April 8, 2020 | 2 Comments

by Kathy Austin, CVA

Tags: , ,

Emergency vehicle rushing down a city street

These are scary times. While there is much we cannot control, there are some things we can do to make sure we are prepared if the worst happens. Especially now, with the Coronavirus circulating through our communities at a rapid pace. You want to make sure first responders know a little about you and how they can best treat you. Here’s where your iPhone can be a life-saving tool.

Your iPhone is equipped with some emergency and medical options. You can make a call to 911 from a locked screen, let paramedics know about any medical conditions you have and notify anyone you choose to know where you are. Here’s how to set up your iPhone for this purpose.


Creating Your Medical I.D. Profile

  • Open the native Health App and choose Medical I.D.
  • Choose Profile
  • Choose Medical I.D. and tap on Edit

Here you have several options to enter information. You can include any medications you are taking, your blood type or if you want to be an organ donor. When finished, tap on the done button.


Choosing Emergency Contacts

You can choose who you want to be notified in case of an emergency in your Medical I.D. profile. You can get there in two ways:

  • By opening the Health app and choosing Medical I.D., choosing Edit and scrolling down to Add an Emergency Contact.
  • By going to Settings, then to Emergency S.O.S. and scrolling down to Add an Emergency Contact. Tapping on this button will take you to the Health app under Medical I.D.

When you activate the Add an Emergency Contact button, you are taken to your Contacts where you can choose the person you want to be notified by tapping on their name. Tap Done when you are finished.


Considering Your Privacy

You can add as much information as you like to the various fields, but keep in mind the privacy implications of the information you share. Your date of birth, name, and picture can be used to positively identify you. Any emergency contacts you nominate will have their phone number displayed, and whoever has your phone can call them.


Making a Call to 911 on an iPhone 8 or Newer

Even if your iPhone is locked, you can still make a call to 911.

  • Press and hold the Power button on the right hand side of the iPhone and either one of the Volume buttons.
  • A screen will appear with a button for Medical I.D. and a button to cancel the call to 911.
  • If Auto Call is enabled, the call will be placed to 911 after three to five seconds.
  • To enable Auto Call, go to Settings, Emergency S.O.S. and toggle on the Auto Call button.

If a call is placed to 911 from your iPhone, your emergency contacts will be notified via text message.

Sometimes, you can call 911 by mistake, especially if you are rebooting your iPhone.  Make sure that if you are rebooting your iPhone with the Power Button on the right side, that you do not accidently press a Volume button with your thumb  at the same time as this will activate the emergency call screen.


Accessing Your Medical Information

On an unlocked iPhone, your Medical I.D. information can be accessed in three ways:

  • Through the health app
  • In the Emergency S.O.S. section under Settings
  • Through the Contact app, by tapping on your name (if you have given your Contacts app a name) or the My Card at the top of the screen, and then  scrolling down to Medical I.D.


Understanding Limitations

Be aware that some first responders are not always aware that your medical information is available on your iPhone.

You cannot text 911 or ask your smart speaker to call emergency services.

Smart 911 is available in several states and cities, including Chicago. Chicago’s Mayor Lightfoot touted this app in a recent press conference on COVID19. Smart 911 is a smartphone app and provides similar information as your Medical I.D. profile. Your Safety profile travels with you and can be accessed by participating 911 emergency call takers nationwide. When you call 911, your Smart 911 Safety profile will appear on the 911 dispatcher’s screen.

A cautionary note:  reviews for this app in Apple’s App Store were less than stellar. A recent update may have fixed some bugs, but you may not want to count on just Smart 911 with your information.


We hope all of you are staying home, safe and healthy.

Kathy is the Community Engagement Specialist at Second Sense.

2 comments on “A Lifesaver in Your Pocket: How to Set Up Your Medical I.D. Profile”

  1. Beth Finke says:

    Thank you so much for these valuable step-by-step instructions, Kathy. Many have recommended that I fill out some emergency information on my iPhone, but until now I wasn’t sure how to accomplish that. Now with time on my hands (all the memoir-writing classes I lead have been cancelled, sigh) I will take on this task today. Thank you, and stay in good health, my friend.

  2. kathy says:

    Beth, glad you found this helpful. I should mention that when I say scroll, this means flicking to the right and when I say tapping, I mean one finger double tap. Hope that clarifies some. Hope you are well and hope your writing classes will continue soon!

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