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Assessing American Red Cross First Aid mobile app user trends: Implications for resilience

Visanee V. Musigdilok, MPH, Natalie E. Demeter, MPH, Rita V. Burke, PhD, MPH, Eric Shook, PhD, Jayakrishnan Ajayakumar, MS, Bridget M. Berg, MPH, Michelle D. Hawkins, PhD, John Ferree, BS, Brenton W. MacAloney II, BS, Sarita Chung, MD, Jeffrey L. Pellegrino, PhD, Dominick Tolli, MSEE, Grant Hansen, MA, Jeffrey S. Upperman, MD


Objective: Disasters have devastated communities, impacted the economy, and resulted in a significant increase in injuries. As the use of mobile technology increasingly becomes a common aspect of everyday life, it is important to understand how it can be used as a resource. The authors examined the use of American Red Cross mobile apps and aimed to characterize user trends to better understand how mobile apps can help bolster individual and community preparedness, resilience, and response efforts.

Design/main outcome measures: Tornado data were obtained from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Weather Service. Data for the mobile apps were provided by the American Red Cross. All data were reviewed for 2013, 2014, and three specific tornado events. Data were organized in Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and then graphed or mapped using ArcMap 10.2™.

Results: Between 2013 and 2014, 1,068 tornado watches and 3,682 tornado warnings were issued. Additionally, 37,957,560 Tornado app users and 1,289,676 First Aid app users were active from 2013 to 2014. Overall, there was an increase in the use of American Red Cross mobile apps during tornado occurrences. Yet the increase does not show a consistent correlation with the number of watches and warnings issued.

Conclusions: Mobile apps can be a resourceful tool. This study shows that mobile app use increases during a disaster. The findings indicate that there is potential to use mobile apps for building resilience as the apps provide information to support individuals and communities in helping before, during, and after disasters.


disaster, technology, tornado, mHealth

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