This Emergency Support App Can Help Keep You Safe on Outdoor Adventures


More people than ever before are exploring the outdoors, and in some cases, this means trouble. There are countless incidents of hikers needing a rescue after over-relying on their phones and other technologies. The new GOES Health app aims to change that.

Credit GOES Health

GOES Health, short for Global Outdoor Emergency Support, is an app that works as a go-to guide for anything that could go wrong when you’re outside. From snake bites to broken legs and sunburns, the app contains information to keep people safe. 

At first glance, GOES appears to be a weather app with the temperature, five-day forecast, and current conditions, but a little further down shows the elevation and, from there, it opens up like a Swiss Army knife of outdoor information with details about current risks. For instance, on a clear sunny day in the 80-degree Fahrenheit range, the app shares details on heat illness and dehydration, with added information on how to handle sunburn. 

Credit GOES Health

GOES gets you in the know with its Prepare Library, which lets you look up details on different conditions—from high altitude to rashes and wound care. After selecting one, you can gather a wealth of additional information. 

For example, clicking on “rashes” lets you select plant or skin rashes. The plant-rash section offers bullet points on poison ivy, sumac, and oak, alongside prevention, symptoms, and care steps. The best part is that this information is available offline, as GOES knows many of their users may be out of range of cell service.

GOES PR article Screenshots
Credit GOES Health

Additionally, GOES wants users to be able to get the help they need and fast. On the home screen of the app, beneath your location, there are three seemingly random words. These words are a feature of What3Words, which allows GPS users to pinpoint your location within 3 meters.

For users who want additional access to healthcare information, there is GOES+, which is 24/7 support from actual medical professionals. The $100/year subscription allows you to call or chat with a GOES doctor whenever needed. It’s important to note this service requires a phone signal.

The GOES app is a great tool to help people enjoy their hikes, camping trips, or whatever outdoor activities bring them joy. Here are additional details from GOES Health founder Dr. Grant Lipman, a medical doctor and former professor at Stanford Emergency Medicine who has spent his career focused on emergency care in the backcountry. 


What is the goal of the GOES Health app? 

Dr. Lipman: The goal of the app is to get people outside and help them explore a little bit further. And to get them out there safely. That is the overarching push to give people the support to explore their own comfort zones a little bit further.

As an adventurer yourself, what motivated you to create this app?

Dr. Lipman: The motivation for GOES came over the last 20 years or so of experiences. Over this time, I’ve been traveling around the world doing expedition support for climbing, hiking, and ultra-marathons. By virtue of just being out there and then publishing a lot and giving lots of lectures around the world, I would get people asking for help. I’d get phone calls and emails and texts from all different areas around the world at all different hours. And a lot of my colleagues would get the same things with people looking for answers. So, there was this idea of how do we get this information to people? 

You can publish something in the literature, which may or may not trickle down into public access, and that’s great, but that takes a long time and not necessarily the level of experience you need. The idea was how can you get information to people who need it when they need it [and] how do we make this information accessible to everybody? 

I took that idea of needing a 24/7 expert call panel at everyone’s disposal and saying how could we get that technology as information to people even when they’re offline and they’re not plugged into a network, and that’s really what drove GOES.

When you open the app, it looks like a weather app, and then it shares a wealth of information. What can users find on the GOES app?

Dr. Lipman: We’re associating the weather and the outdoors with health risks. So you’re going outside, and you may say, oh, it’s not that hot. Still, you have to know not just about sunburn but information about heat exhaustion and maybe water intoxication from hyponatremia. 

If you’re heading to a high altitude, the app will track your altitude and say, if you’re going here, you should be aware of how to plan and recognize and treat acute mountain sickness. And so there really are these opportunities of just looking at your location to understand the health risks associated with outdoor activities.

As you dig deeper, really, the majority of all your outdoor concerns are going to be discussed there. From how to treat blisters, snake bites, drowning, and water intoxication from outdoor pursuits when you’re drinking too much water, there’s a gamut of information.

Can you share more about the premium-level 24/7 support package?

Dr. Lipman: My idea is that I want everyone to have access to all of the medical advice to be able to make the best decisions possible for themselves. We have about 28 fantastic wilderness-medicine-trained doctors, and these folks have all spent an extra year after residency training to do a specialized program in wilderness medicine. They are part of this medical advisory board and are on call by phone or chat 24 hours a day. When people have an emergency, they need some information on what’s the best practice on what to do in these situations, they can now then have access to these experts.

One thing we see a lot in the outdoor industry is park rangers and other outdoor organizations urging people not to rely on their phones. What does this app provide to make it a helpful tool in the backcountry and not be part of this problem?

Dr. Lipman: Honestly, I’m not a fan of high tech in a low-tech environment. One of the issues people run into is if you’re reliant on broadband when you’re getting outside and don’t have connectivity, everything just goes south. We’ve devised this app to make it completely downloadable. When you don’t have this connection to the 24/7 emergency line, you have all these decision trees where via an avatar, you can see what body part is bothering you and see what terrain or climate you’re in. You can actually then ask it questions, and these questions stem to help you really make these critical decisions. 

I’ll tell you from going on expeditions all over the world, the biggest decision I get as medical support is, does this person need to be evacuated or can they stay in play? If you’re out there on just a fun day trip with your kids and you can stay out there a little bit longer, that’s a great experience for them. 

Does this app cater to any outdoor experience level?

Dr. Lipman: I would make the argument that everyone with a little bit of knowledge can explore their own boundaries a little bit further and get out there. So I think it’s applicable to a broad range of people. 

When I was creating some of these decision trees, I was talking to search-and-rescue rangers in the Grand Canyon, and they’re seeing 7-9 million visitors a year. I spoke with their medical director about people going out there who have never been to the desert before, and they’re getting in harm’s way by just their own enthusiasm. At the same time, we see experienced hikers and people doing the rim-to-rim who, unfortunately and tragically, are dying from hyponatremia or water overload. In just this one national park, we have folks who are getting injured, from the first-time visitor all the way to the experienced ultra-endurance athlete. So this app really does apply to just about everybody getting outside.

In short, what can this app do for any user?

Dr. Lipman: I think anyone looking to get outside wants to have the most fun possible, right? You want to get out there for your exercise or enjoyment or relaxation or some combination of it. And we want people to be able to enjoy it to the maximum. Just do it with a little bit of knowledge, and it’ll increase your safety and your ability to get out there a little bit further.

Would you try the GOES Health app to help you stay safe on your outdoor adventures? 

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