Unique app alerts trained citizens to a heart attack victim in their area who needs CPR

‘Pulse Point' app available for iPhones, Androids

SAN DIEGO - The San Diego County Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed Tuesday to begin negotiations with the maker of a smartphone app that notifies people with CPR training that someone nearby is suffering sudden cardiac arrest.

County officials said sudden cardiac arrest occurs in outwardly healthy people, and claims nearly 1,000 lives daily throughout the country. It can be treated with early CPR, defibrillation, advanced cardiac life support and mild therapeutic hypothermia, which is most effective when started in three to five minutes

However, emergency response times are often six minutes or longer, Supervisor Ron Roberts said.

"Clearly the faster first responders can get to the victim, the greater the opportunity for saving lives," Roberts said.

The board directed staffers to open discussions between regional emergency response system operators and app-maker PulsePoint Foundation in hopes of establishing a county-wide smartphone notification system to alert nearby off-duty CPR-trained responders, and to identify grants and other funding sources to cover the system's start-up and initial operating costs.

Roberts said the PulsePoint smartphone app would use information from the county's existing 911 system to notify nearby CPR-trained bystanders, such as off-duty firefighters, police officers, nurses and lifeguards, and can direct them to the nearest automated external defibrillator.

The app uses location-based services built into phones to message a map showing the public place the heart attack was suffered to a CPR provider in seconds, according to Roberts and Supervisor Bill Horn.

"Where there's a will -- or app -- there's a way," Roberts said.

The data could also help identify areas that lack defibrillator access, Roberts said.

Roberts and Horn said adopting the PulsePoint system and encouraging more San Diego County residents to learn CPR would lead to a healthier and better-trained community. By incorporating PulsePoint into the emergency call system, a new group of citizen first responders could improve public safety and save lives, they said.

"If you recognize a problem, don't be afraid to respond. It could be a matter of life and death," Horn said.

Roberts and Horn said the potential introduction of the PulsePoint app in San Diego County has drawn support from several public safety, first response and emergency service providers.


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