New Umergency app helps college students and families in emergencies

The recently launched app Umergency is designed to connect college students to their families in a medical emergency by allowing parents to have all the information they need to help their child the best they can.  (The Daily Campus/stock photo)

The recently launched app Umergency is designed to connect college students to their families in a medical emergency by allowing parents to have all the information they need to help their child the best they can.  (The Daily Campus/stock photo)

The recently launched app Umergency is designed to connect college students to their families in a medical emergency while they are living away from home.

According to the app’s co-founder, Gail Schenbaum, the app will allow parents to have all the information they need to help their child the best they can.

For University of Connecticut students, Umergency has contact information for all of UConn’s resources, including UCPD and Student Health Services.

Katelyn Parzych, UConn’s Umergency brand ambassador, said in an email that she urges students to download the app.

“You will have all of the information they need including an ‘Urgent Alert’ button to immediately notify your specific contacts with your GPS location that you need help, the closest Urgent care and ER facilities, National Hotlines for Sexual Assault, Suicide Prevention and Poison Control, a copy of your insurance card and…a signed digital consent form that allows family to speak with medical staff,” Parzych said.

The app, which is available to download from the App Store and Google Play, allows students to upload their insurance cards and select their specific university, Schenbaum said. After that initial step, according to Schenbaum, the app produces all the emergency resources (health, fire, police and everything custom to the school community) in seconds.

“After the student downloads the app, they need to invite everyone they want to have close contact, such as parents, friends and roommates, to download as well,” Schenbaum said. “Then, if an emergency happens, an urgent alert beacon can be pressed which allows anyone in close contact to have their current GPS location and alerts them to send help right away.”

Umergency also has a digital medical consent form that, if a student signs, can send permission to their parents in order for them to talk to doctors, according to Schenbaum.

“Fortunately, with my daughter, she already gave us permission. If she had not, the hospital would not have called us,” Schenbaum said. “Once you are 18, parents do not have permission and a medical person will not speak to you [without a medical consent form].”

Schenbaum said she came up with the idea for Umergency after her daughter had a medical emergency as a freshman in college.

“My husband and I got a call in the middle of the night. My daughter was in an ambulance and she was, thankfully, still conscious to talk and she said, ‘Mom, it’s me. It’s okay but it’s really bad,’” Schenbaum said. “The EMT said that there was a partial amputation and once they pulled into the emergency room, they hung up.”

Schenbaum said she and her husband were left worrying miles away with no idea where their daughter was, what happened to her and who they needed to call.

“The first thing you do is reach for your phone in an emergency. I did, but I had no resources or contact info,” Schenbaum said. “Other parents and students shouldn’t go without knowing what to do. Parents need to have all the resources.”

Schenbaum said she hopes that her app will help students, parents and friends stay calm in case of an emergency.

“Being prepared really does help give peace of mind. Being prepared in an emergency situation is what it is all about,” Schenbaum said. “When you are in this situation, it is the worst feeling and you panic. When you have all this information at a touch of a button, you know what to do.”


Rachel Philipson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at rachel.philipson@uconn.edu.