- The PulsePoint mobile app alerts CPR-trained bystanders to someone nearby having a sudden cardiac arrest that may require CPR.
- The app is activated by the local public safety communications center simultaneous with the dispatch of local fire and EMS resources.
- The purpose of the app is to increase the survival rates of cardiac arrest victims by:
- Reducing collapse-to-CPR times by increasing citizen awareness of cardiac events beyond a traditional “witnessed” area.
- Reducing collapse-to-defibrillation times by increasing awareness of public access defibrillator (AED) locations through real-time mapping of nearby devices.
- The app is only activated if the event is occurring in a public place (the app is not activated for residential addresses).
- In addition to the life-saving CPR/AED functionality, the app provides a virtual window into fire and EMS activity in the community, offering a unique opportunity for civic engagement and transparency.
- The app is provided free of charge to the public. The supporting IT infrastructure is also provided free of charge to public safety agencies desiring to offer the application in their community. Since the app requires a connection to the local public safety communications center, it is only available where adopted and implemented by the local Fire/EMS agency.
- Funding and support for the application is provided by the PulsePoint Foundation, a nonprofit organization established to guide, enhance and expand the reach of the app.
Why improving bystander CPR rates is critical
- Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is a leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for an estimated 325,000 deaths each year (SCA kills nearly 1,000 people a day or one person every two minutes).
- Survival rates nationally for SCA are less than 8%.
- Delivery of CPR is life-saving first aid, and can sustain life until paramedics arrive by helping to maintain vital blood flow to the heart and brain.
- Only about one quarter of SCA victims receive bystander CPR.
- Without oxygen-rich blood, permanent brain damage or death can occur in less than 8 minutes. After 10 minutes there is little chance of successful resuscitation. Even in modern urban settings the response times for professional rescuers commonly approach these time frames.
- The American Heart Association estimates that effective bystander CPR, provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest, can double or triple a person’s chance of survival.
- In April 2008, the American Heart Association revised its recommendations and encouraged lay bystanders to use compression-only CPR as an alternative to the combined rescue breathing and chest compression method. It is believed that this change will significantly increase the willingness of bystanders to perform CPR.
- Sudden Cardiac Arrest is not the same as a heart attack. A heart attack occurs when blood vessels in the heart get clogged, preventing blood flow to sections of heart muscle. A heart attack, however, can lead to SCA by triggering an abnormal heart rhythm. SCA may be compared to an electrical problem in the heart, in contrast to a heart attack, which is more of a plumbing problem.
- Fifty-seven percent of adults in the U.S. say they have undergone training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), most often due to work or school requirements. Most say they would be willing to use CPR to help a stranger. Most say they would be willing to use an automated external defibrillator (AED). Eleven percent say they have used CPR in an actual emergency.
- SCA can happen to anyone at any time. Many victims appear healthy with no known heart disease or other risk factors.
Why AED location information is so valuable
- An automated external defibrillator or AED is a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses potentially life threatening cardiac arrhythmias and is able to treat them through defibrillation, the application of electrical therapy which stops the arrhythmia, allowing the heart to reestablish an effective rhythm. The use of AEDs is taught in many first aid and CPR classes, however no training is required for their effective use.
- Publicly available AEDs are rarely retrieved and used because bystanders generally cannot see them and have no way to know if one is even available nearby.
- Statistics provided by the CARES (Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival) Registry indicate that publicly available AEDs are used less than 3% of the time when needed and available. As a result, SCA victims are dying at locations at or near publicly placed AEDs.
- Even if CPR is performed, defibrillation with an AED is required to stop the abnormal rhythm and restore a normal heart rhythm.
- Technology has made AEDs simple and user-friendly. Clear audio and visual cues tell users what to do when using an AED and coach people through CPR. A shock is delivered only if the victim needs it.
- AEDs are now widely available in public places such as schools, airports and workplaces.
The application has received several international awards including the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) 2011 Award for Excellence, a Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) 2011 VITA Wireless Samaritan Award, a 2011 Computerworld Honors Program Laureate Award for Innovation, an American Heart Association Life Saver Heart Partner Award, and an IADAS Webby Official Honoree award for the Best Use of GPS or Location Technology. The Public Service Announcement designed to promote awareness and adoption of the application also received Telly Awards for Government Relations and Public Service.
Good Samaritan laws exist to protect those who choose to aid others who are injured or ill. They are intended to reduce bystanders’ hesitation to assist, for fear of being sued or prosecuted for unintentional injury or wrongful death.