June 3, 2013 | by

Our Citizens Are Our First, First Responders

by San Ramon (CA) Mayor Bill Clarkson

Mayor Bill Clarkson

Mayor Bill Clarkson

This year, FEMA’s Citizen Corp Council Program celebrates its tenth-year anniversary. Here in the San Ramon Valley (the cities of San Ramon and Danville), we have taken the Citizen Corps mission to heart to “harness the power of every individual through education, training, and volunteer service to make communities safer, stronger, and better prepared to respond to the threats of terrorism, crime, public health issues, and disasters of all kinds.”

One of our biggest Citizen Corps public health successes has been the PulsePoint Citizen Responder CPR/AED app. First proposed by our Fire Chief, Richard Price, back in 2011, the app now alerts CPR-trained citizens to nearby cardiac arrest victims in more than 100 communities across five states. The app that was successfully piloted here in our community has now been downloaded by more than 50,000 people and activated on more than 700 actual cardiac emergencies. On two occasions I was personally alerted and responded to assist.

When someone suffers a Sudden Cardiac Arrest they only have about ten minutes to live, but getting CPR started immediately and deploying a public–access AED can stop this brief clock and sustain life until advance care can arrive. The reality is CPR is only started about a quarter of time and publically available AEDs are rarely retrieved and used. The app greatly improves the chance that CPR will be started by crowdsourcing those willing and best positioned to make a difference and by providing them with specific AED location information in context with their current location.

It’s not a whole lot different than what we expect of our citizens when a fire starts. We imagine that in the first few minutes of a fire that those nearby will locate a fire extinguisher or hose and use it. If they do, they can make a critical difference that only those nearby could. If they don’t engage, the incident quickly grows in intensity and must be handled by the professionals – but only after more damage has been done. And if too much time passes, even the professionals cannot make a meaningful difference. Active citizenship is the foundation of good government and as mayors we have a responsibility to provide the platforms that enable it.

What was started and proven here is now available to your community through the non-profit PulsePoint Foundation (www.PulsePoint.org).

This article originally appeared on the back cover of U.S. MAYOR. Mayors are invited to submit the “Best Practices” of their cities. Contact Public Affairs at 202-293-7330 or send e-mail to usmayor@usmayors.org