The Czech App That Saves Lives

Saving lives since 2016, Záchranka started as a bachelor's thesis idea and became a fully-functional mobile app interconnected with rescue service systems.

Portrait of Filip Malenak inventor the Zachranka application
Filip Maleňák, inventor of the Záchranka application. Photo: courtesy of Záchranka

The successful Czech smartphone app Záchranka is the official mobile application of the Czech Medical Rescue Services, including the Czech Mountain Rescue Service and the Czech Water Rescue Service. It offers a unique solution for transferring information about injured people to emergency services and has already helped thousands of users in critical situations.

The app knows no borders, so besides Czechia, it is already saving lives in Slovakia, Austria, and Hungary. And it all started as one student’s innocent idea.

From simple ideas to great results

Filip Maleňák invented the Záchranka application while studying biomedical engineering and bioinformatics at the Brno University of Technology. The theme of his bachelor thesis was transmitting information about injured people’s location when communicating with the rescue service. At that time, smartphones already had GPS navigation but could not easily share location coordinates to rescue services.

But his bachelor thesis proposed a solution: an app that could do it. The idea appealed to several subjects: the Czech Medical Rescue Service, the Generali Insurance company, and the Vodafone Foundation. Thus began a four-year design and programming process, resulting in the launch of the Záchranka app in 2016.

Every day, around 50 people call for help through the app, and rescuers have responded to more than 35,000 cases based on calls from the app. In addition, the app contains a detailed map of defibrillators, of which there are more than 2500 throughout the Czech Republic. Every user knows where the nearest device that can save a life is located with a few clicks.

Záchranka: Continued updates and new features

Even though the app has been around for over six years, its author and his team continue to improve it. One of the new features is the “I can’t talk” button, intended for cases when an injury or situation does not allow the caller to communicate with the emergency operator by voice. When this button is pressed, the person in distress chooses from a selection of the nine most common injuries or accidents the ones that concern them. 

An emergency message is then sent with the injured person’s profile details, exact GPS location, and information about the injuries the person has selected from the table. Thus, people with neck injuries who cannot speak or victims of domestic violence can communicate with emergency responders without talking.

Another feature is automatically sending information about hazards in the area where the phone’s owner is located. The user thus immediately learns about potential dangers in the area and has the chance to avoid them.

Other life-saving expansions

In addition to further expanding the functions of Záchranka, the application is also getting ready for further geographical expansion. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the app is now fully functional in Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. The plan is to expand to other countries and regions – especially Bavaria.

The Bavarian Red Cross has shown great interest in using the Záchranka, and so far, a memorandum of cooperation with the Bavarian Red Cross has been signed. A German app version is being developed under “Notruf Bayern” and should be launched in Bavaria this summer. The app developers anticipate Bavaria becoming the app’s gateway to Germany and Western Europe.

According to the Záchranka team, the app will soon be available in Albania, Egypt, and the Romanian and Italian mountains. The ultimate goal is to merge all the apps into one, which would work in different language mutations and localisations across Europe.

Marek Koten

A Ph.D. student in economics, specializing in nuclear energy from the Czech Republic, he also serves as a political consultant to the Czech government and the U.S. Republican Party.

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