November 23, 2013 | by

Taking pulse of CPR

Clark County unveils smartphone app that can help save lives of cardiac arrest victims

Troy-Wayrynen_TheColumbian_11222013_300pxApproximately 360 to 370 people go into cardiac arrest annually in Clark County, and an average of 17 percent survive, Dr. Lynn Wittwer said Friday.

Wittwer, the county’s emergency medical services program director, said he was defining “survive” as patients who leave the hospital in good neurological condition.

While a 17 percent survival rate ranks higher than many places in the United States, Wittwer would like to increase the survival rate to 30 percent.

And a tool he believes will help was unveiled Friday at the Clark County Public Service Center: PulsePoint, a free smartphone app that alerts CPR-trained users to a cardiac arrest in public.

The Vancouver Fire Department has been working about two years to get the app activated here, ever since Chief Joe Molina heard about it in California. A $25,000 grant paid for the behind-the-scenes work that Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency had to do in order for the app to work countywide. When a call about a cardiac arrest goes to 911, users of PulsePoint who are within 400 yards of the call will be alerted.

Chief Nick Swinhart of the Camas-Washougal Fire Department demonstrated the app Friday.

Now that Vancouver police and sheriff’s patrol cars are equipped with automated external defibrillators, the PulsePoint app has the next greatest potential to increase survival rates for cardiac arrest victims, Swinhart said. Emergency responders are hoping residents who know CPR will download the app, greatly increasing the chance that if someone suffers cardiac arrest in public there will be someone able to respond within a few minutes.

After downloading the app, the user clicks “Clark County” from a list of agencies. Then, under settings, her or she selects “CPR” from call types.

The user can listen to emergency radio traffic if alerted to a nearby cardiac arrest call. A map will show the patient’s exact location.

Doug Smith-Lee, EMS manager for CRESA, reiterated the app only alerts people to calls made from nearby public locations.

Read the full article by Stephanie Rice at The Columbian. Photo by Roy Wayrynen.