October 20, 2011 | by

A California Survey of Digital Technology’s Role in Civic Engagement and Local Government

New America Foundation Report

New America Foundation Report October, 2011

Excerpt from page 5 “Innovation Spotlight: San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District CPR Application”

The San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District (Contra Costa County) is combining GPS with a smartphone application to save lives in emergency situations. Launched in 2011, the Fire Department mobile iPhone application allows people certified in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) to volunteer to be alerted if someone nearby appears to be having a cardiac event and may need help. Once notified of the emergency and the location , registered users can find the victim and administer CPR (or locate the nearest public defibrillator, as directed by the app), saving precious minutes before public safety personnel can respond. San Ramon Fire Chief Richard Price was inspired to create the application after hearing an emergency vehicle approaching a deli where he was having lunch. After parking in the restaurant’s lot, the emergency crew proceeded next door to respond to a cardiac emergency — a lifesaving service that the Chief and others could have easily and quickly provided had they only known of the emergency and its proximity. The idea for the application was born that afternoon, and preliminary plans were drawn up on a deli napkin. The mobile application “crowdsources” life saving services by using volunteers from throughout the community to help respond to critical cardiac events. After a multi-pronged public launch of the application, including use of social media, moving public service announcements, and outreach to community groups and stakeholders, approximately 40,000 users within the District’s boundaries have downloaded the application. Due to state, national and international demand for the technology, the Fire District has set up a non-profit foundation, PulsePoint, to assist in the dissemination of the technology to 125 other public agencies across the globe that would like to replicate it in their communities. In the future, a similar crowdsourcing application could be employed for Amber alerts, filling sandbags during a flood, or staffing emergency shelters in times of crisis.