Free location app saves a life

Samuel Carvalho uses what3words to direct emergency services to his new build home when he has a cardiac episode.

Samuel Carvalho uses what3words to direct emergency services to his new build home when he has a cardiac episode. - Credit: what3words

A Cambridgeshire man who was born with a heart condition has shared his story to encourage other people to use a free life-saving location app. 

Samuel Carvalho, aged 27, suffers from an extremely rare cardiac condition and started using what3words to direct emergency services to his new build home when he has a cardiac episode. 

He now relies on the app every time he needs help from them. 

Samuel describes his condition as ‘having a heart rate that’s faster than someone running an eight-hour marathon, 24/7, 365 days a year’. 

He is permanently tachycardic and can suddenly lose consciousness with no warning or symptoms. 


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Between March and October last year (2020), Samuel was admitted to hospital over 30 times and most recently, his head went through the plaster wall in his home. 

Samuel was admitted to hospital over 30 times between March and October last year (2020)

Samuel Carvalho was admitted to hospital over 30 times between March and October last year (2020) and most recently, his head went through the plaster wall in his home. - Credit: what3words

“For a condition like mine, when I need help, I need it urgently,” said Samuel. 

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“In December last year we moved into a new-build house. 

“For a long time, the ambulances, rapid response vehicles and community responders weren’t able to find our home. 

“Everything changed when we started using what3words. 

“The call handlers have been brilliant, and take our what3words address so easily. 

“The ambulances always know to trust what3words, it’s as specific as you can get. 

“Since we’ve started using the app, the ambulance turns up straight away, every time.  

“It can literally be the difference between life and death.” 

Since Samuel Carvalho has started using the what3words app, the ambulance has turned up for him straight away, every time.

Since Samuel Carvalho has started using the what3words app, the ambulance has turned up for him straight away, every time. - Credit: what3words

Every three-metre square of the world has been given a unique combination of three words. 

What3words can be used for e-commerce and delivery, navigation, emergencies and more. 

The app does not require access to 4G or Wifi. 

Users track their location on the app and tell the emergency call handler ‘I have a what3words location’ and read out the words. 

Peter Bromley, crew commander at Cambridgeshire Fire & Rescue Service, said: “This app has already helped us locate people stuck in flood water, animals trapped in wire and bonfires out of control in remote locations. 

“It has also helped us find people on motorways, side roads and back roads with car fires, medical emergencies and a whole range of other issues. 

“This app can help us find you ANYWHERE.” 

Another Cambridgeshire resident who used what3words to help emergency services locate their whereabouts quickly was special constable Charlene. 

Charlene was driving along the A14 near Catworth and Leighton Bromsworld with her brother in an unfamiliar area when they spotted a car ablaze. 

Cambridgeshire special constable Charlene used what3words to provide the location of this car fire

Cambridgeshire special constable Charlene used what3words to provide the location of this car fire, helping the fire service to locate them quickly. - Credit: what3words

The two boys that were in the car they saw had managed to get out just in time. 

Charlene reacted quickly and called 999, providing them with their exact what3words address so Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service could locate them quickly. 

Charlene was driving in an unfamiliar area, but thanks to what3words, she was able to get the fire service there qucikly.

Cambridgeshire special constable Charlene was driving in an unfamiliar area, but thanks to what3words, she was able to get the fire service there qucikly. - Credit: what3words

Peter said: “If you came across an emergency, would you know where you are? 

“Summer is coming and no doubt as the pandemic eases, millions of Brits will be heading off for a summer staycation. 

“Whether you are visiting Cambridgeshire’s fens, camping in the forests of Suffolk, paddling along one of the stunning rivers or just driving through the county, download ‘what3words’ now to enable the emergency services to locate you. 

“This app can bring the emergency services to your location much faster than ever before, helping us to help those in need.” 

what3words can be used for e-commerce and delivery, navigation, emergencies and more.

what3words can be used for e-commerce and delivery, navigation, emergencies and more. - Credit: what3words

How to use what3words in an emergency 

  • Open the app and click the blue arrow (iOS) or compass (Android) to find the three-word address for your current location.  

  • Wait a few seconds until the GPS has settled and the blue dot is not jumping around – this will give the most accurate result. 

  • Clearly share your three words address with the call handler, along with any other local descriptions you may have such as nearby roads, towns or any other landmarks. 

What3words can also be used via the online map and works anywhere in the world. 

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