Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a major killer in the U.S., accounting for approximately 325,000 deaths per year, or nearly 1,000 a day. SCA is not the same as a heart attack, although SCA may result from a heart attack. When such a cardiac event occurs response time is the most significant factor for survival. According to PulsePoint.org, however, only 8% survive a SCA. When 57% of the U.S. adult population report having cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training at some point, the potential for those people to be able to help with SCAs that occur in public places is clear; there are likely trained people in the vicinity who could help if they knew about the incident. The problem is how to connect potential rescuers to a SCA incident in time so they can get to a scene quickly enough to have a chance to save a life in the 8 to 10 minutes immediately after the event, the time period when resuscitation is still possible.
The PulsePoint Respond program is a system to alert registered CPR certified volunteers that someone nearby needs help. PulsePoint Respond is typically installed, implemented, and promoted by local fire departments and EMS agencies. When a call comes in to 911 about a sudden cardiac arrest alerts are sent to regular citizens who are CPR trained and have signed up for the local program simultaneously with the EMS notification that gets a crew rolling. The alert goes to an iOS app that notifies people registered with the program whose cell phone is within a specified range of the SCA incident.
Optionally, automatic external defibrillator (AED) location information goes out with the SC alert so any of the civilian responders who have said they’d be willing to use an AED can retrieve and bring the closest portable unit to the scene. Previously we wrote about the AEDMAP application anyone can use to find the nearest AED. PulsePoint Respond is a more active system that sends AED location information automatically to people in the area.
Voluntary citizen participation and involvement in fast response to medical emergencies enables people to help when needed, has the potential to improve emergency response and success overall, and to save lives.