August 07, 2014
By JOHN SCHREIBER
City News Service
A mobile app that enables users to get immediate help for cardiac arrest victims in their vicinity was launched in Los Angeles County on August 6. County officials said the location-based smartphone app known as PulsePoint empowers ordinary citizens to provide life-saving aid to victims of sudden heart attacks.
“We do this because we want to save lives,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said at a launch event in Inglewood. “This is technology at its best and it is all about saving lives.”
Fire officials said registered users trained in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation are notified through the app by 911 dispatchers whenever someone in their area needs help. From there, the app directs users to the victim, instructs them on CPR techniques and points them to the nearest automatic external defibrillator.
“In some instances, it is tough to get to every response in a timely manner,” said Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby. “We are taking a huge leap forward for our relationship with the medical services we provide by engaging our citizens to be partners with us as it relates to first response.”
Officials said only 8 percent of cardiac arrest victims nationwide survive, and survivability rates are directly dependent on receiving immediate CPR. Providing immediate chest compressions to cardiac arrest victims can double or even triple chances for survival, according to the American Heart Association. Osby said his department averages a 5-minute response time, but during a cardiac arrest, the first three minutes are the most important.
“Those first several minutes as it relates to a cardiac arrest are crucial to the survivability of a victim,” Osby said. “Every second, every minute counts.”
Officials said they hope people will download the app, become CPR certified and subsequently increase the survivability rate for cardiac arrest victims in the area. More than 13,000 people have already downloaded the app, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Touted by the PulsePoint Foundation as an “Amber Alert for cardiac arrest victims,” the app will only notify users of emergencies that take place in public places and exclude emergencies at residential addresses. The app will work anywhere in Los Angeles County, including in cities that have their own 911 call centers.
Funding for the app’s launch in Los Angeles County came entirely from a grant from The Wireless Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting wireless technology that helps American communities. Officials said the app’s implementation comes at no additional cost to the county. County firefighters urge people to learn hands-only CPR in order to participate in the program. More information on CPR classes in the county can be found by contacting (323) 881-2411 or emailing