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How to contact emergency services through Skype
© Brad Calkins |

How to use Skype to make an emergency phone call

An emergency requires quick thinking, and split-second decisions can mean the difference between life and death. Unless you’re a qualified doctor, first responders must arrive as quickly as possible to assist someone in dire need.

There are several ways to dispatch police, an ambulance or a fire truck. Android and iOS devices have built-in emergency protocols, and a few apps can also do the same. But what if your mobile phone isn’t close by and you’re working on your computer?

Read on to see how Microsoft gives you another way of calling for help.

Here’s the backstory

Skype has become extremely popular since the start of the pandemic. Tons of people use the video chatting platform daily for work and keeping in touch with family and friends. If you’ve ever had an emergency arise during a video call, Skype could not help.

But that has now changed, as owner Microsoft enabled the function in the U.S. with an update to Skype. The release notes for Skype 8.80 include a single line that says you can now make emergency calls from Skype in the U.S.

America is the latest country to feature emergency calling, as it is already available in Australia, Denmark, Finland and the U.K. In addition, it is possible to dial emergency numbers from inside countries that don’t officially support Skype, as it will route through the user’s mobile network operator instead.

How to enable location sharing on Skype

The function is available in the U.S., but you must take a few steps for first responders to know where you are. Location sharing is critical, and Skype will automatically capture and share your location with emergency operators.

To enable location sharing:

  • Open Skype and select your profile picture.
  • Select Settings, then Privacy.
  • Turn 911 emergency location sharing on.

Before the setting is activated, you must accept Notices & Disclosures and the Special 911 Warning of Limitations & Unavailability. If you no longer want to share your location, you can go through the same steps from above and turn location sharing off.

Keep in mind that Skype can’t use your location if the device you’re using doesn’t allow for tracking.

“If you are operating from a device that does not have an API for location sharing or are in a location where location sharing is unavailable, your location will not be shared automatically with the emergency services operator,” Microsoft added.

Keep reading

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How to share medical information on your phone in an emergency

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