January 15, 2014 | by

University Hospitals, East Side suburbs use PulsePoint app to enlist CPR-trained people to help first responders

The PulsePoint app lets any CPR-trained user know when there is an emergency within a quarter mile, and also provides the location of the nearest defibrillator. The app is coordinated with emergency dispatch centers and aims to get CPR to victims of cardiac arrest as quickly as possible, saving valuable minutes in an emergency.

CVD App ImageCLEVELAND, Ohio– If someone collapses in a public place and needs CPR, University Hospitals and an East Side 9-1-1 dispatch center are now using an app called PulsePoint to let ordinary citizens know about it, hoping that people with CPR training who are close at hand will step in until emergency workers arrive.

PulsePoint is a free app launched in 2009 after San Ramon Valley Fire Chief Richard Price watched his own fire department’s trucks arrive to a medical emergency at a store next to the deli where he was eating lunch. A man at the store had collapsed and needed CPR, but because it was a medical emergency, Price didn’t know about it.

“If it had been a big fire, they would have called me,” Price said. “But these calls happen all the time. Had I known, I probably could have made a difference, because I had a defibrillator in my car.” Fortunately, the man survived.

Price worked with engineering students at Northern Kentucky University to develop the app, and 500 cities in 16 states are now using it.

The PulsePoint system is incorporated into the 9-1-1 protocol: in an emergency in which a person suffers a sudden cardiac arrest in a public place, app users within a quarter-mile will receive a notification of the event and also see where the nearest automated external defibrillator (AED) is located. An AED is a portable device that checks the heart rhythm and can deliver an electric shock to restore a normal rhythm if necessary.

Daniel Ellenberger, director of the EMS training & Disaster Preparedness Institute at UH, brought the technology to Northeast Ohio after seeing it demonstrated at a conference last year. Columbus-area emergency dispatchers began using the notification system over the summer.

“I thought this would be a great fit for us with our mission,” Ellenberger said. “Before anyone is going to survive an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, they have to have great CPR. We have to train people, but part of that is being notified that they’re needed.”

Read the full article by Brie Zeltner at The Plain Dealer.