Steve Lopez, LA Times

August 10, 2014 | by

App could boost chances of cardiac arrest victims

Later this month I’ll be marking the two-year anniversary of my death.

That’s not a line you see too often, is it?

My heart gave out after knee surgery, because of an arrhythmia. Even for those who suffer cardiac arrest in a hospital, the survival rate is low. But I was lucky. A nurse quickly used CPR and brought me back from the dead in less than a minute.

CPR-needed Alert MapLast week while driving to work I heard my cardiologist, Dr. Leslie Saxon, on KNX-AM (1070) talking about a new app that could save the lives of those stricken by cardiac arrest. The Los Angeles County Fire Department is encouraging civilians to download the app and join a growing army of crowd-sourced good Samaritans — 13,000 so far — who can keep someone alive until emergency crews arrive.

Before I tell you how the app works and how simple it is to use, let me tell you why it’s so important.

Cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death, killing more than 1,000 people a day in the United States. The victims, who include children, often have no symptoms and consider themselves perfectly healthy. As opposed to a heart attack (a plumbing problem in which blood flow to the heart is blocked), cardiac arrest is the sudden loss of heart function caused by an electrical malfunction in which the heart’s pumping action is disrupted.

Without CPR — and I mean chest compressions, not mouth-to-mouth resuscitation — death can occur within minutes. That means a five-minute response to a 911 call might be too late.

“It’s going to take a community to impact the dismal survival rates for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest patients,” Saxon said.

The idea for the app was hatched several years ago by a Bay Area fire chief who thought there must be a way to put the 13 million people with CPR training to better use. So, what if the moment someone dialed 911 in a case of cardiac arrest, nearby civilians could be notified on their mobile phones and do CPR until paramedics arrive?

Richard Price, now retired from the San Ramon Valley Fire Department, helped establish a nonprofit that has now linked its PulsePoint app to emergency systems in about 200 California fire departments and several hundred more around the country. He said the Los Angeles Fire Department may be signing on soon.

“There have been some pretty significant stories of lives saved, directly attributable to the app,” Price said.

Most interventions, so far, have been by off-duty emergency responders who downloaded the app. But as Price points out, any civilian can learn CPR in a matter of minutes. The PulsePoint app itself has a “how-to” feature with a diagram on how to place the heels of the hands in the center of the chest and push down firmly and rapidly, about 100 times per minute.

If you have the app and you’re in the L.A. County Fire Department coverage area, you’ll get a beep on your iPhone or Android device if you’re within one-quarter mile of where the fallen person is. Although it might be best in some cases to simply do CPR until trained responders arrive, a related app will give you a map showing where the nearest portable Automated External Defibrillator, or AED, is located.

Even if you’re not comfortable using one, you might be able to alert someone who is. Not all cases of cardiac arrest call for an AED, but the machines are designed for quick diagnosis, with clear and simple instructions on safe use by lay persons.

Price said it will take some time for the location of all AEDs to be loaded into the app. And it’s going to take some time, as well, for AEDs to become more prevalent. Concerns about cost ($1,200 or more per unit) and legal liability have impeded wider use.

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Bob Roy, a Riverside man whose 14-year-old son, Travis, went into cardiac arrest at his middle school in 2005 and later died, has been lobbying to require schools to have AEDs.

“You’re a hundred times more likely to need an AED than a fire extinguisher, and which of those two are required by law?” asked Roy, who has helped place dozens of the devices in schools through the nonprofit thetravisfund.org.

Former state Sen. Joe Simitian, now a Santa Clara County supervisor, said resistance to AEDs is based in part on fears of legal liability if the devices malfunction. But the technology has improved dramatically since regulations were written, he said, and it may be time to legislatively broaden legal protection for those willing to try to save someone’s life.

More people die each year from cardiac arrest than from lung, breast, prostate and colon cancer combined. And Dr. Frank Pratt, medical director for the L.A. County Fire Department, says it’s time for cardiac arrest to be addressed with the same urgency.

“If this number of people were dying from an infection or a defect in an automobile or a stove, there’d be a national uproar,” Pratt said. “The PulsePoint app gives us an opportunity to reinvigorate the dialogue on the whole public health problem of sudden cardiac arrest.”

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July 23, 2013 | by

Fostering Communities through Geolocation

STQ CoverNextdoor is a geolocation service based on networking within neighborhoods. What is appealing is Nextdoor’s attempt at making a self-sufficient neighborhood and promoting peaceful living. The app enables people to connect with nearby neighborhoods, includes focus on creating a virtual neighborhood watch to help fight crime in an area. Posts about a local break-in and other crime and safety issues are among the top two categories of things the app does. One great thing about the app is that neighborhoods are encouraged to create their own social networks. These are private and restricted to only those who live in the designated areas. There is a verification process for users. Nextdoor CEO, Nirav Tolia talks about emerging behaviors, ones that go beyond finding great deals. These range from finding people to carpool, setting up a neighborhood watch, borrowing something, finding babysitters, creating classified ads, and discussing community issues amongst those umpteen things one can do within a neighborhood. The app is now available in 8,000 neighborhoods in all 50 states of USA. The app goes on to prove the effectiveness of building a community of supporters and a clear benefit: the kind of relevance and support we seek when building or joining groups.

From this perspective what sounds cool and at the same time is realistic is a community of life-saving super heroes. Turning intent into action, PulsePoint app looks at creating a location based community of people trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and are willing to assist in case of an emergency.People are notified if someone nearby in a public place is having a cardiac emergency and may require CPR. The most significant aspect of the app is encouraging more people to be trained in CPR and thereby be of assistance and aid in cases of medical emergencies. The free app also notifies about the exact location of the nearest Automated External Defibrillator (AED). The app was originally developed and tested by the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District (CA). Reported cases and incidents go on to illustrate the usefulness of merging location and technologies. Mobile users have real-time access to emergency activity as it is occurring. By providing locations on an interactive map, the app also notifies whether the emergency has caused a traffic tie-up so that people can plan an alternate route. The app hosts other sets of features and reported cases illustrate how this app has been successful so far in its public outreach. The app certainly changes perceptions about location-based apps being all about adding value to shopping alone. A mix of content, skills and location ultimately builds better connections than shallow endorsement based check-ins.

What is required in the current scenario is the reinforcement of a belief that adding location into a social network is not only for enhance social connections but also to leverage the power of these connections to achieve greater goals. Engagement is the key word that drives social technologies. Building a community is perhaps the easier part. The real challenge is engaging the members of a community. More often people discuss problems in their areas and what better if an app can help people fix these problems.

Read the full article by Vandana U in Social Technology Quarterly.

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July 23, 2013 | by

Crowdsourcing Life-Saving Assistance

AmbulanceDisaster responders cannot be everywhere at the same time, but the crowd is always there. The same is true for health care professionals such as critical care paramedics who work with an ambulance service. Paramedics cannot be posted everywhere. Can crowdsourcing help? This was the question posed to me by my colleague Mark who overseas the ambulance personnel for a major city.

Take Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), for example. SCA’s account for an estimated 325,000 deaths each year in the US—one person every two minutes. Survival rates nationally are less than 8%. But Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation, or CPR, can sustain life until paramedics arrive by maintaining blood flow to the heart and brain. “Without oxygen-rich blood, permanent brain damage or death can occur in less than 8 minutes. After 10 minutes there is little chance of successful resuscitation. Even in modern urban settings the response times for professional rescuers commonly approach these time frames”. This explains why “effective bystander CPR, provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest, can double or triple a person’s chance of survival”. In fact, close to 60% of adults in the US say they have taken CPR training (often due to school requirements) and 11% say they have used CPR in an actual emergency.

So why not develop a dedicated smartphone app to alert bystanders when someone nearby is suffering from a Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

Read the full post by Patrick Meier on the iRevolution blog.

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January 25, 2013 | by

Emergency CPR Mobile App Could Save Lives

techvibes-logoCrowdsourcing is changing the way we handle digital information. It helps us distribute tasks, share photos, fund projects, and expand our professional networks.

Through a clinical trial in Toronto, one company is poised to take crowdsourcing in Canada a step further with a CPR app that could save lives.

The PulsePoint Foundation, a non-profit organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area, has developed the PulsePoint app to help victims who have gone into sudden cardiac arrest. The app alerts people in the area who have CPR training when someone nearby is experiencing a cardiac event.

Using the app, which is available for Android and iOS, 911 dispatchers will send out a message to users in the vicinity. If you have the PulsePoint app on your smartphone, you’ll immediately receive a notification, whether you’re in the grocery store, the mall, or even at a hockey game.

Read the full article by Taryn McMillan at Techvibes.

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October 10, 2012 | by

Transforming Government Through Location Intelligence

Map with PinWhen location data is coupled with existing government data and expertise, every point on the map can provide historical and predictive perspective to inform complex policy decisions. The map itself has been transformed from a static picture to a living platform for shared decision making and real-time collaboration, focusing the energy of the crowd and empowering government and citizens to work together to respond quickly to challenges at any scale. Thinking about service delivery through the lens of location-based technologies can help agencies make smarter decisions about investments in physical infrastructure.

In some ways, this future has already arrived. For someone suffering from cardiac arrest, minutes can mean the difference between life and death, and emergency medical crews can’t always get there immediately. PulsePoint is a mobile app that connects heart attack-related 911 calls with individuals nearby who are certified in CPR to provide immediate assistance until an ambulance can arrive.

Read the full GovLab Study on transforming government through location intelligence by Deloitte Consulting, LLC.

GovLab is a think tank in the Federal practice of Deloitte Consulting LLP that focuses on innovation in the public sector.

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October 20, 2011 | by

A California Survey of Digital Technology’s Role in Civic Engagement and Local Government

New America Foundation Report

New America Foundation Report October, 2011

Excerpt from page 5 “Innovation Spotlight: San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District CPR Application”

The San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District (Contra Costa County) is combining GPS with a smartphone application to save lives in emergency situations. Launched in 2011, the Fire Department mobile iPhone application allows people certified in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) to volunteer to be alerted if someone nearby appears to be having a cardiac event and may need help. Once notified of the emergency and the location , registered users can find the victim and administer CPR (or locate the nearest public defibrillator, as directed by the app), saving precious minutes before public safety personnel can respond. San Ramon Fire Chief Richard Price was inspired to create the application after hearing an emergency vehicle approaching a deli where he was having lunch. After parking in the restaurant’s lot, the emergency crew proceeded next door to respond to a cardiac emergency — a lifesaving service that the Chief and others could have easily and quickly provided had they only known of the emergency and its proximity. The idea for the application was born that afternoon, and preliminary plans were drawn up on a deli napkin. The mobile application “crowdsources” life saving services by using volunteers from throughout the community to help respond to critical cardiac events. After a multi-pronged public launch of the application, including use of social media, moving public service announcements, and outreach to community groups and stakeholders, approximately 40,000 users within the District’s boundaries have downloaded the application. Due to state, national and international demand for the technology, the Fire District has set up a non-profit foundation, PulsePoint, to assist in the dissemination of the technology to 125 other public agencies across the globe that would like to replicate it in their communities. In the future, a similar crowdsourcing application could be employed for Amber alerts, filling sandbags during a flood, or staffing emergency shelters in times of crisis.

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