What to Consider when responding to an S.O.S Call?

An emergency situation is any situation that gives rise to an immediate threat to a person’s security, property, health or territory. As a Heroes Nearby hero, you may be called on any time someone feels this threat. Being well-prepared for an emergency and thinking ahead of the types of situations you may encounter will help you to act when it’s time.

Heroes Nearby app is a tool intended to help people in various situations, from the simplest to the serious.

There is no obligation for the Hero to respond to an SOS call. If the situation is too dangerous or you are simply not qualified, you can still help by calling the police/firefighters, emergency services and/or recording what is happening on the scene. In many cases (even violence), just showing up is enough for someone to de-escalate the situation. You do not need to get involved directly.

Primary assessment

Risk assessment is the most important part of responding to an emergency. In any emergency situation, you should take a few moments to assess the risk to yourself. A situation which escalates quickly and creates more victims is worse than a situation where there is only one victim. Remember, you cannot help a victim if you become a victim yourself.

On approach, you need to be aware of the dangers at the scene. These can include obvious dangers such as traffic, gas or chemical leaks, live electrical items, buildings on fire, falling objects or armed assailants. There are also human factors, such as bystanders in the way, the victim not being co-operative, or an aggressor in the vicinity who may have inflicted the injuries on the victim. If these factors are present, the best reaction might be to retreat until the police are able to control the situation.

Remember that the emergency scene is dynamic and continuous risk assessment is needed whatever the situation.

Assault and Violence

Try to determine if the assailant is armed. This information could have already been sent in the SOS call, or recorded in a media file. Call the police. At this point you could use the Heroes Nearby App in witness mode, to record the incident. In a life threatening situation, your first action should always be to seek professional help. Extreme caution is advised if the situation involves multiple assailants with weapons.

Medical Emergencies

If you are a doctor, nurse or paramedic, the Heroes Nearby App allows you to setup your Hero profile to respond only to medical emergencies. If you are not a medical professional, you can still help. Again the most important thing is to notify the authorities.

If you are trained as a first responder, you will know how to start CPR, control bleeding, assist with choking and deal with other minor injuries. It is essential to stay calm and not put yourself in jeopardy. If you feel yourself becoming anxious. Stop whatever you are doing, Breathe deeply – this will help you regain control, Think about where you are, what you are doing, Act – once you have your anxiety under control act in the appropriate manner.

Always hand over the emergency when someone more qualified arrives on the scene. Even just calling for help is useful, as it gets a professional on the scene quicker which translates into a better outcome for the patient.

Criminal Activity

Criminal activity can often be stopped just by the intervention of another person or the sound of the alarm on the Heroes Nearby App.  Assess the scene to determine if the criminals are armed and the exact nature of the crime. In this situation, it may be enough to use the Heroes Nearby App in witness mode and simply record video, audio or take photos of the activity. This could be used later by the police to catch or prosecute the criminals. Call the police.

Verbal Abuse and escalating situations

Sometimes a situation may include an aggressor who is being verbally abusive and threatening, but hasn’t physically assaulted anyone yet. This is a potentially difficult situation that could easily escalate. Sometimes just your arrival on the scene can serve as an intervention and the situation can be resolved. If you are a responding Hero, keep in mind the following.

Try to get the aggressor’s name and use the name when talking. Keep a calm tone of voice and language. Do not threaten the aggressor. Be conscious of non-verbal communication and maintain a comfortable personal space during a confrontation. Depending on your skill set and the situation, you could act to subdue the aggressor, distract the aggressor so that the victim (s) can get away, call in for professional help and keep monitoring the situation.


An accident is an unplanned event that causes some kind of harm. In many cases, the cause of harm is obvious. If you are trained in emergency first response, you should know what to do. If not, maybe you should consider taking a course.

On the scene of the accident. First make sure there is no present danger. Check for fire, glass, electricity, falling objects and traffic. Do not move the victim unless their life is potentially in danger. Calculate the total number of patients and the types of injuries so that you know how many ambulances to call. While you are waiting for professional help remember the 4 P’s Preserve life,    Prevent further injury,    Promote recovery,    and Protect the unconscious.

If you are a professional, take over the management of the accident as soon as you reach the scene.

Good Samaritan Laws

A common concern for anyone responding to an emergency situation is: What if I make it worse? Will I be liable for unintentional injury or, worst case scenario, wrongful death?

Good Samaritan laws provide legal protection to people who give voluntary assistance to those who are, or are believed to be, injured, ill, in danger, or otherwise incapacitated. The existence of such a law is intended to reduce bystanders’ hesitation to assist, for fear of being prosecuted in the event of injury or death.

By contrast, some countries have a duty to rescue law which requires people to give assistance, and holds those who fail to do so liable.

Good Samaritan laws may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Their interactions with other legal principles may also vary. For example issues such as consent, parental rights and the right to refuse treatment can have an effect on their implementation.

The values contained in good Samaritan laws typically operate in countries in which the foundation of the legal system is English Common Law. In many countries where civil law forms the basis of the legal systems, the same effect is achieved using a principle of duty to rescue. Countries that have some form of Good Samaritan Law are: Australia, Canada, China, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Israel, USA and UK.

by Merryn Wainwright