PGFD to re­cruit or­di­nary cit­i­zens to save lives

In­no­va­tive phone app aims to im­prove car­diac ar­rest sur­vival rates

The Enquire-Gazette - - Front Page - By JOHNATHON CLINKSCALES jclinkscales@somd­news.com

The Prince Ge­orge’s County Fire/EMS De­part­ment is all fired up thanks to a ground­break­ing phone ap­pli­ca­tion de­signed to im­prove car­diac ar­rest sur­vival rates through by­stander per­for­mance and ac­tive cit­i­zen­ship.

PulsePoint Re­spond is an in­no­va­tive new lo­ca­tion-aware phone ap­pli­ca­tion that em­pow­ers ev­ery­day cit­i­zens to pro­vide life-sav­ing as­sis­tance to vic­tims of sud­den car­diac ar­rest. Com­mu­ni­ties can now use the ap­pli­ca­tion to dis­patch CPR-trained cit­i­zens to ma­jor car­diac emer­gen­cies where the po­ten­tial need for by­stander CPR is high, ac­cord­ing to PulsePoint’s web­site.

“PulsePoint is an ap­pli­ca­tion for An­droid and iPhone de­vices that will al­low both fire de­part­ment and non-fire de­part­ment pub­lic ac­cess peo­ple to get no­ti­fied when they’re in the vicin­ity of a car­diac ar­rest,” As­sis­tant Fire Chief Brian Frankel said in a phone in­ter­view. “We know through re­search that for ev­ery minute that a car­diac ar­rest pa­tient is not re­ceiv­ing CPR, their chance of sur­vival sig­nif­i­cantly de­creases ev­ery minute. Af­ter five or so min­utes, their chance of sur­vival is less than 20 per­cent.”

In the last few years, Frankel said the fire de­part­ment has done a lot to im­prove emer­gency re­sponse ser­vices for cit­i­zens in the county. Those ef­forts in­clude re­duc­ing re­sponse times, work­ing with pub­lic safety com­mu­ni­ca­tions to increase what is known

as “suit times,” which is the time that some­body calls 911 to the time a call is re­sponded to, he said.

“Our goal is to get peo­ple do­ing CPR as quickly as pos­si­ble. If we can get peo­ple to do hands-only CPR prior to our ar­rival, then that’s giv­ing that pa­tient ev­ery op­por­tu­nity for sur­vival,” Frankel said.

One gap, how­ever, that the fire de­part­ment has iden­ti­fied is the gap be­tween a time that a pa­tient has a car­diac ar­rest and the time med­i­cal of­fi­cials ar­rive on scene. Be­cause the de­part­ment can’t in­stan­ta­neously be at the pa­tient’s side, of­fi­cials started look­ing for other re­sources, Frankel said.

“PulsePoint of­fered us an op­por­tu­nity to kind of fill that gap,” Frankel said.

The PulsePoint mo­bile app, which is ac­ti­vated by the lo­cal pub­lic safety com­mu­ni­ca­tions cen­ter si­mul­ta­ne­ous with the dis­patch of lo­cal fire and EMS re­sources, alerts CPR-trained by­standers to some­one nearby hav­ing a sud­den car­diac ar­rest that may re­quire CPR. The app is only ac­ti­vated if the event is oc­cur­ring in a pub­lic place and not for res­i­den­tial ad­dresses, ac­cord­ing to the PulsePoint web­site.

“When we get dis­patched on a call, PulsePoint will ac­tu­ally send ac­ti­va­tion to those peo­ple that are within about a quar­ter of a mile of the in­ci­dent. Now, there are some caveats to that,” Frankel ex­claimed. “It will only tell peo­ple that there’s a car­diac ar­rest in pub­lic places. So we won’t send like your neigh­bor, for ex­am­ple, over to your neigh­bor’s house be­cause that’s pri­vate in­for­ma­tion and med­i­cally, we’re not al­lowed to re­lease that in­for­ma­tion. Plus the fact we don’t want to put peo­ple’s per­sonal in­for­ma­tion out in pub­lic.”

At the time of need, users that have opted-in re­ceive a push no­ti­fi­ca­tion ac­com­pa­nied by a dis­tinc­tive alert tone. The no­ti­fi­ca­tion is fol­lowed by a map dis­play show­ing the dis­patched lo­ca­tion of the emer­gency along with the pre­cise lo­ca­tion of the ci­ti­zen res­cuer, pro­vid­ing for easy nav­i­ga­tion be­tween the two. Ul­ti­mately, PulsePoint aims to in­form ci­ti­zen res­cuers where the near­est Au­to­mated Ex­ter­nal De­fib­ril­la­tor (AED) is lo­cated, in real-time and in con­text of their cur­rent lo­ca­tion, ac­cord­ing to the web­site.

In ad­di­tion to the life-sav­ing CPR/AED func­tion­al­ity, app users are able to view ac­tive in­ci­dents — in­clud­ing the cur­rent re­sponse sta­tus of dis­patched units en route, on scene, etc. — and in­stantly pin­point in­ci­dent lo­ca­tions on an in­ter­ac­tive map. A log of re­cent in­ci­dents and a photo gallery of sig­nif­i­cant events can also be eas­ily ac­cessed.

“If you’re sit­ting in a restaurant and some­body has a car­diac ar­rest and you may be in the back of the restaurant when some­body calls 911, you would get an ac­ti­va­tion on your phone that says, ‘Hey there’s a car­diac ar­rest pa­tient at this lo­ca­tion.’ The app shows you the ex­act lo­ca­tion of where that pa­tient is and it will also show you where the clos­est pub­lic-ac­cess AED is,” Frankel said. “If one is close to you, we would want you to not only go start CPR, but send some­body to get get that AED. In the app, even­tu­ally it will have pic­tures of where that AED is in the build­ing.”

Ac­cord­ing to Franklin, the only other place in the re­gion where the app is used by the fire de­part­ment is in Howard County. Since its im­ple­men­ta­tion less than two years ago, it has worked sev­eral times to ac­tu­ally change the out­come of pa­tients and save their lives, he said.

Franklin said the de­part­ment will not only do a mas­sive pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion cam­paign for the app, but start teach­ing hands-only CPR for county cit­i­zens as well. He said the goal is to help cit­i­zens be­come more aware of and en­gaged with the health of their community, a crit­i­cal part of re­sponse ef­forts.

“Ul­ti­mately, we’re sav­ing lives and it’s re­ally hav­ing a pos­i­tive im­pact in our community,” Frankel said. “I’m re­ally ex­cited about this op­por­tu­nity. It’s re­ally go­ing to change the dy­namic in Prince Ge­orge’s County with our res­i­dents.”

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