Amy Schatz,

August 24, 2014 | by

Life Saving Crowdsourcing App Expands Reach To Stop Cardiac Arrests

Recode LogoOff-duty firefighter Scott Brawner was working out in a suburban Portland gym this spring, listening to Pandora, when suddenly the music stopped.

An app on his phone warned him that someone nearby needed CPR. Brawner reportedly raced around the gym, trying to find the victim before heading to the parking lot, where he saw a man sprawled on the pavement. He began giving the man CPR until fire and rescue units showed up.

The man’s survival wasn’t just a blessing for his family, it was a huge victory for the PulsePoint Foundation, a Bay Area non-profit whose app is making it easier to alert CPR-trained people that someone nearby needs help.

Crowdsourcing has been used for everything from political campaigns to potato salad, but PulsePoint’s app represents the first time it has been used on a wide-scale to help save dying people in cardiac arrest. Victims have very little time – generally ten minutes or under – to receive CPR before they either lose brain functions or die.

PulsePoint’s free app connects to local 911 call centers and alerts users when there is someone nearby in need of CPR. PulsePoint users get an alert the same time as local emergency responders.

It also shows the location of the closest automatic defibrillator (if there is one nearby) as well as a reminder about how to do CPR, just in case the user has an adrenaline-induced brain-freeze. A related PulsePoint app is trying to get people to crowdsource the locations of automatic defibrillators so volunteers will know where to find them.

“As a fire chief I was always focused on response times. Trying to get help to people faster,” said Richard Price, a former San Ramon Valley Fire Department chief, who is the force behind the app and the non-profit foundation that oversees it. Crowdsourcing volunteer CPR-trained volunteers “is a very efficient, low-cost way of making an impact.”

Price came up with the idea for the app five years ago after a disturbing incident one day while eating a sandwich.

He was at a local deli when he heard sirens, Price remembers. Emergency vehicles pulled up and he rushed outside to see what was going on. A man in a shop next door had collapsed and emergency responders were unable to revive him.

“He was on the other side of the wall, I couldn’t see him,” Price says. “He lay there unconscious with no one doing CPR. I had a (automated defibrillator) nearby in my vehicle.”

Although the iPhone had been introduced a few years before, apps that took advantage of location-based information were only starting to be developed.

“It just struck me that we could have off-duty professionals – police, firefighters, nurses and all the CPR trained citizens – who had to be in the exact right place at the right time,” he said. “We have these phones now. Could we use someone’s phone to determine their locations…give them the same capabilities as first responders?”

Price’s fire department had little money to spend on the project. He says he talked to developers around the Bay Area but couldn’t find anyone who would help them for the right price. He eventually connected with a computer science program at Northern Kentucky University, which required students to develop a working app as a graduation requirement.

A group of students created a working prototype “at almost no cost,” Price says. They tested the app in the San Ramon area and eventually found support from PeopleSoft co-founder David Duffield, whose enterprise cloud applications company WorkDay, volunteered to take over. The company still volunteers engineering time to develop and maintain the technology.

The PulsePoint Foundation was created in 2011, which holds all of the intellectual property for the app, as well as funding from WorkDay and other groups to help expand the app’s reach. The foundation also partnered with Physio-Control, a medical device developer specializing in automated defibrillators, to market the app technology.

Los Angeles County began using the system earlier this month, joining about 700 local communities in 20 states which have connected the technology to their 911 call centers. Another 200 communities are in the process of adding the service, Price says, which generally costs about $5,000 a year.

View the full story by Amy Schatz at Re/code.

Full Story
Drew in Wheelchair

June 4, 2014 | by

Heart Attack Rescue? There’s an App for That

A new smartphone app that aims to turn ordinary bystanders into heart attack heroes did just that last month, saving the life of a 57-year-old truck driver from Portland, Oregon, who had collapsed outside a gym.

Drew Basse is the first high-profile rescue attributed to PulsePoint, a free mobile app that alerts users when someone is in cardiac arrest nearby.

“Without people like Scott Brawner, I wouldn’t have had a second chance,” said Basse, referring to the off-duty local firefighter who answered the PulsePoint ping.

Basse, a father of two and grandfather to four, is recovering in a Portland rehabilitation center after the May 9 incident that Brawner said was the highlight of his 34-year career.

“I can’t believe that it worked,” said Brawner, 52, of Tualatin, Oregon. “It was just awesome. It still gives me chills.”

Full Story

Created on a shoestring budget by Richard Price, a former San Ramon, California, fire chief who didn’t want to miss an emergency call, PulsePoint has gained slow traction since 2009, rolling out to 911 dispatch centers that now cover some 600 U.S. cities.

“We’ve found that people are very willing to put their hand up and say, ‘I’ll help,’” said Price. More than 140,000 people have signed up for PulsePoint so far and more than 7,300 have responded to nearly 2,300 alerts.

Every year in the U.S. there are about 360,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, or about 1,000 a day. Experts who research the problem say PulsePoint may be one way to boost the ranks of those who can perform bystander CPR, which doubles or triples the chances of surviving.

“It’s a great use of technology to enlist the aid of people who are willing and able to help save lives from cardiac arrest,” said Dr. Michael Sayre, an emergency medicine doctor with the University of Washington in Seattle and an leader in resuscitation medicine.

In Basse’s case, he was saved by Brawner, who happened to be working out at the same gym. Brawner’s fire district signed up for PulsePoint about a year ago.

But even he wasn’t expecting the alert that showed up on his phone as he walked on the treadmill, telling him that someone needed CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, right away. He saw a map, an icon of where he was, an icon showing the closet AED or automated external defibrillator — and an icon showing a victim. He quickly ran down two flights of stairs.

“I saw a security guard standing in the parking structure and it just didn’t look right to me,” Brawner said. “That’s where Drew Basse was. He was literally sitting in his car, unconscious, not breathing, no pulse.”

In fact, Brawner thought he looked like a “fresh code,” firefighter slang for someone who is already dead.

Brawner pulled Basse out of his car and started performing CPR. Within minutes, emergency crews arrived and took over, but the time that Brawner kept Basse’s blood pumping was crucial, doctors said.

That’s just what PulsePoint founder Price, 52, had in mind. He was a veteran of 32 years as a firefighter and fire chief, focused on improving bystander CPR and rapid response.

He was at lunch one day when he heard sirens and saw a fire truck pull right up to the business next door. “I wasn’t even aware of it,” he said. “I was actually in uniform. I had an AED in my car. We just weren’t plugged into those types of calls.”

Using technical skill gleaned from years of operating dispatch centers, Price worked with engineering interns from Northern Kentucky University to develop the app. Now, it’s updated and maintained by the firm Workday, which provides technical services for free.

View the full story by JoNel Aleccia at NBC News.

Less Story

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.

Full Story

July 8, 2011 | by

PulsePoint Foundation Begins Work to Extend Reach of Lifesaving Fire Department Mobile Phone App

SAN RAMON, CA – The San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District is proud to announce the formation of the PulsePoint Foundation. The new nonprofit organization has been established to guide, enhance and expand the reach of the Fire Department CPR notification app released earlier this year. The Fire Department app empowers everyday citizens to provide life-saving assistance to victims of Sudden Cardiac Arrest. “The app crowd-sources Good Samaritans to events where the potential need for bystander CPR is high,” said Fire Chief Richard Price. “The vital work of the PulsePoint Foundation has already begun,” added Price. “PulsePoint is set to begin partnering with nearly two hundred fire and EMS agencies that have expressed interest in deploying the application in their communities.”

Although the application was pioneered and tested in the San Ramon Valley, the Fire District has always been anxious to share its life saving potential. Forming an independent and external foundation to distribute and support the application will help facilitate and speed adoption by other communities.

Intergraph Corporation, a leading Computer-aided Dispatch system vendor, has announced plans to offer the PulsePoint solution to all its accounts – which together cover one in twelve people worldwide. “Intergraph is proud to partner with the PulsePoint Foundation to facilitate this life-saving technology. The combination of PulsePoint’s CPR application and Intergraph’s global leadership in public safety solutions is a perfect match to achieve the ultimate objective of protecting lives,” said Jay Stinson, VP & General Manager, Intergraph Public Safety.

The PulsePoint Foundation will be guided by an Advisory Board made up of visionaries in the tech and medical industries, including Dr. Ben Bobrow of the Arizona Department of Health Services, Co-Founder and Co-CEO Dave Duffield of Workday, CIO Tim Ferguson of Northern Kentucky University, CEO Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Media, and President Jack Parow of the International Association of Fire Chiefs. The Board also includes a list of influential community leaders and business professionals including Bill Coy, Leadership Practice Director of La Piana Consulting, Petros Dermetzis, VP of Development at Workday, Joe Farrell, CEO of Redwood Orthopaedic Physical Therapy, Don Ledoux, Partner at Summit Financial Group, David Rice, President of the Tri-Valley Community Foundation, and Matt Stamey, Director at the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District. The board has recruited Richard Price, Fire Chief of the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District, to serve as the Foundation’s president.

The application has received several international awards including the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) 2011 VITA Wireless Samaritan Award, a 2011 Computerworld Honors Program Laureate Award for Innovation, an American Heart Association Life Saver Heart Partner Award, and an IADAS Webby Official Honoree award for the Best Use of GPS or Location Technology. The Public Service Announcement designed to promote awareness and adoption of the application also received two Telly Awards.

The potential of the application also caught the attention of some of the country’s leading resuscitation experts, including partners of The HeartRescue Project, a five-state effort funded by the Medtronic Foundation designed to improve cardiac arrest survival rates.

“We know that improved survivor rates begin with improved bystander response,” says Dr. Michael Sayre, an associate professor of emergency medicine at The Ohio State University and the HeartRescue Project medical director. “By taking advantage of advances in mobile technology, we can bring nearby lifesavers right to the scene to begin CPR, saving precious seconds.” One of the first states planning to deploy the application is Arizona, a HeartRescue Project participant.

Both the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District and Northern Kentucky University and its College of Informatics have generously donated all rights from their original work on the application to the foundation for the benefit of society.

“Collaboration with the PulsePoint Foundation perfectly aligns with Northern Kentucky University’s community outreach mission. This innovative technology has true potential to change and save lives and we are proud to be part of such an initiative,” said James Votruba, President of NKU.

Full Story

April 21, 2011 | by

San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District Recognized by Computerworld as a 2011 Honors Laureate

SAN RAMON, CA ‐ International Data Group’s (IDG) Computerworld Honors Program today, April 21, 2011, announced San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District as a 2011 Laureate for Innovation. The annual award program honors visionary applications of information technology promoting positive social, economic and educational change. The District was selected for its iPhone application that provides immediate, life‐saving assistance to victims of Sudden Cardiac Arrest by crowd‐sourcing Good Samaritans.

“The number and quality of nominations this year was very inspiring and demonstrated how valuable IT is to community change,” said John Amato, Publisher, Computerworld. “Computerworld is very proud to name the 2011 class of Laureates and showcase their initiatives benefiting society through innovative uses of IT.”

“The application is initially targeting the approximately 300,000 people who suffer out‐of‐hospital cardiac arrest each year in the United States,” said Richard Price, Fire Chief for the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District. “Numerous investigations have shown that bystander CPR results in a doubling or tripling of patient survival, yet CPR rates across the country have remained unacceptably low at around 26%. The application aims to improve this percentage by immediately alerting everyday citizens to the need for CPR nearby while also directing them to public access defibrillators when available.”

The Computerworld Honors awards will be presented at the Annual Laureates Medal Ceremony & Gala Awards on June 20, 2011 at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C.

The San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District is an internationally‐accredited special district that provides all‐risk fire, rescue and emergency medical services to the communities of Alamo, Blackhawk, the Town of Danville, Diablo, the City of San Ramon, the southern area of Morgan Territory and the Tassajara Valley, in Northern California (Contra Costa County). The District’s service area encompasses approximately 155 square miles and serves a population of 170,000. The District has established a foundation to assist other public safety agencies to deploy the application in their community.

The application was developed in partnership with the Center for Applied Informatics at Northern Kentucky University (NKU). For additional web and print resources, including sample screen shots, supporting images and video please visit the Fire Department iPhone App landing page at http://www.firedepartment.mobi. A Public Service Announcement (PSA) video to raise local awareness about the application is also available on the site.

About Computerworld Honors Program
Founded by International Data Group (IDG) in 1988, The Computerworld Honors Program is governed by the not‐for‐profit Computerworld Information Technology Awards Foundation. Computerworld Honors is the longest running global program to honor individuals and organizations that use information technology to promote positive social, economic and educational change. Additional information about the program and a Global Archive of past Laureate case studies and oral histories of Leadership Award recipients can be found at the Computerworld Honors website http://events.computerworld.com/Honors2011.

Full Story