Ambulance chiefs urge public to use life-saving What3words app

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Ambulance bosses are urging the public to download a life-saving app that can pinpoint anyone’s location anywhere in the world.

The what3words platform has divided the glob into a 3metre x 3metre grid and given every single square a unique combination of three words which identifies its precise location.

The North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) has become the latest emergency service to sign up to the service and used it five times in its first week to locate patients.

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The service says patients often struggle to explain their location over the phone. Landmark-based descriptions are prone to errors, while GPS coordinates are long and difficult to communicate.

You can download the app to your phoneYou can download the app to your phone
You can download the app to your phone

And locating casualties quickly can mean the difference between life and death, especially in winter when hypothermia is a serious risk.

Systems and resilience dispatch officer Mark Hagan has been the lead for NEAS on installing the what3words app into its system.

“A 999 call could be one of the worst times of your life," he said

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Every square has been given a unique three-word referenceEvery square has been given a unique three-word reference
Every square has been given a unique three-word reference

"You might be on your own in immediate danger, possibly in a lot of pain or feeling very unwell. It’s the job of our health advisors to find where you are as quickly as possible.

"As every minute is delayed getting our frontline crew to you, the more your condition will deteriorate.

“It is often assumed that our call handlers know your location based on phone signals, but they don’t and it can be very stressful at times trying to find the location of a patient who needs urgent help.

“Before the new technology, we relied on people trying to identify landmarks, shops or junctions and this often proved difficult. If people were from outside of the area this was an added challenge as they weren’t familiar with where they were.

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“We also rely on resources from neighbouring partners such as the Coastguard and Mountain Rescue Service to locate a patient, but this app will really cut down on the time it will take to respond to patients and potentially save more lives.”

What3words is free to download for both iOS and Android at and is available in more than 40 languages, as well as being accessible anywhere in the world.

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