November 23, 2016 | by

Off-duty Salem firefighter saves life with app’s help

Fire Captain Greg Sanberg

Fire Captain Greg Sanberg was running errands in Salem this spring when an app on his phone alerted him about a medical emergency at a nearby motel.

This wasn’t a chance Facebook or Twitter post: With the help of the mobile app, the off-duty firefighter was able to locate a woman in cardiac arrest.

Sanberg, 47, performed chest compressions. The woman began to breathe around the time emergency responders arrived, he said.

“It was just as sliver of time when I was that close to that person,” he said.

The app is called PulsePoint. City officials say it has helped boost Salem’s cardiac arrest save rate to 80 percent, one of the highest in the Pacific Northwest.

PulsePoint works by giving users a heads-up when someone nearby is experiencing cardiac arrest. Users can tell the app they are trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR.

The app lets users report where they see automated external defibrillators in the community. It lists events like traffic collisions and fire alarms, too.

In October, a little more than 5,000 Salem-area users had signed up with PulsePoint, and city officials are urging more people to use it.

The city says more people are being trained in CPR, including more than 2,700 eight-grade students who also learned how to use defibrillators last year. The city estimates up to 3,000 students are going to be trained similarly this year.

“It’s very important for everyone to have these basic skills in order to save a loved one,” Salem Fire Department Chief Mike Niblock said in a news release, noting that more than half of sudden cardiac arrests in Salem happen inside peoples’ homes.

As far as Sanberg is concerned, the more people on PulsePoint, the more likely it is to save a person’s life.

“We only have 150 people in our fire department,” he said, comparing that to the thousands of app users. And the potential for being an everyday hero doesn’t stop in Salem – the app can be used in cities around the nation, from Seattle to Pittsburgh.

“You could be across the county and save somebody’s life,” Sandberg said.

Source: Jonathan Bach, Statesman Journal