January 29, 2013 | by

Free smartphone app, new to Oregon, designed to save lives through crowdsourcing CPR

AppStoreScreenShot300pxRichard Price heard a distant siren and wondered where the emergency crew was headed. The siren’s whine intensified until the crew pulled up outside the deli where Price was having lunch.

Next door, someone was in cardiac arrest: The person’s heart had stopped beating unexpectedly.

Price, who was chief of northern California’s San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District until retiring last year, is trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation. He carried an automated external defibrillator in his car trunk. If he’d known, he could have worked to re-start the victim’s heart during the crucial minutes it took the rescue crew to arrive — minutes that frequently mean the difference between life and death for those in cardiac arrest.

The incident about three years ago inspired what Price considers the best idea he ever had: PulsePoint, a free smartphone application that fires off alerts when CPR may be needed in a public space nearby. It directs bystanders willing to perform CPR to the precise location and tells them where to find publicly accessible automated defibrillators.

Tuesday, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue became the first Oregon fire department to introduce and implement the app. Its developers hope its use spreads to departments across the state — even around the world.

For now in Oregon, those who live or work in, or who travel through TVF&R’s, 220-square-mile service area, and who download the PulsePoint app, could have lifesaving opportunities in their future.

“We see this as another way in which we can partner with the community to save even more lives,” says Mark Charleston, TVF&R battalion chief.

The fire department serves about 450,000 residents from U.S. 30 at its northern edge, to Charbonneau in the south, Sherwood to the west and West Linn to the east. It has a longstanding goal of increasing survival rates for cardiac patients.

Read the full article by Katy Muldoon, at The Oregonian.