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June 12, 2014 | by

PulsePoint app turns bystanders into first responders

When it comes to helping a victim of cardiac arrest, it’s all about speed. PulsePoint, a life-saving mobile app, may not necessarily increase the speed at which first responders arrive, but it adds more legs to the race.

Santa Clara County agencies began using the PulsePoint app earlier this year with the goal of mobilizing CPR-trained residents and bystanders into becoming first responders.

The free app uses location-based technology to alert CPR-trained citizens if someone in their immediate area is experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. The alerted citizen can then choose to spring into action, find the victim and begin resuscitation until official emergency responders arrive.

“I can do an important job that the fire department can not do,” says PulsePoint Foundation president and app inventor Richard Price, adding that first responders “can’t get there in two minutes. I can sustain life until they arrive.”

Price, the former chief of the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District, conceived the idea in 2009 after there was a cardiac arrest incident near him that he was unaware of and could not respond to. The idea came just as the smart phone revolution was gaining serious momentum.

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“This idea to push a message to a phone is fairly new, and the ability for the phone to know where it’s at is still fairly new,” Price says.

Price adds that there are associated time costs that people forget about between the initial 911 call and paramedics arriving to assist. Call dispatchers have to take information, firefighters and paramedics need to scramble to their vehicles, and responders still need to get to the precise location of the victim.

All of this needs to happen in nine minutes, after which Price says there is a 92 percent chance of death.

“In these first few minutes, you can really make a difference,” Price says. “You just think about these minutes as a [baseball] score, and you don’t want to start in a deep hole. You don’t win many games when it’s 9-0 in the first inning.”

While the app is available to all CPR-trained individuals, the real target audience is off-duty firefighters, nurses and other life-saving professionals. However, Price adds that all CPR-trained individuals are valuable, and simply being aware of the app can stimulate awareness of CPR and trigger more discussion, especially for younger more tech-savvy residents.

View the full story by Matt Wilson at San Jose Mercury News.

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KPIX CBS SF

June 3, 2014 | by

East Bay Firefighters’ Life-Saving Smartphone App Works As Designed When Man Needed CPR


SAN RAMON (CBS SF) — A smartphone app pioneered by an East Bay fire department is being credited with saving a life by alerting an off-duty firefighter of someone nearby who needed cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.

The PulsePoint application triggers an alert to CPR-trained citizens when a local 9-1-1 call is made, allowing anyone with the app to respond if they are nearby the person needing assistance.

Last month, off-duty firefighter Scott Brawner was working out at a Clackamas, Oregon health club when he was alerted through the PulsePoint app, finding a man unconscious and not breathing outside the health club within a minute, according to the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District which developed the app.

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The firefighter immediately began CPR on the 57-year-old man and continued until paramedics arrived, the district said.

Firefighter/Paramedic Lucas Hirst, who also has experience as an IT technician, led an effort by developers to create the app and launch it in February of last year for the district.

“I am so proud and happy that something we created was able to save someone’s life,” said Hirst. “It’s a pretty profound thing when you receive that email and you read the statement [that] it worked as designed.”

Hirst compared the app to the digital equivalent of someone yelling out “Is there a doctor in the house?” — but with much better results.

“Now you have somebody who is able to spend another Christmas, another holiday with their family because of an app we created here,” said Hirst. “It’s amazing. It’s a feeling I can’t even explain.”

The fire district said the off-duty firefighter was able to meet the man he rescued along with the man’s family a week after the incident. Doctors said the man was expected to recover fully because CPR was administered so quickly.

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March 28, 2013 | by

Saving Lives with an App

Mobile app notifies registrants when CPR is needed

Chief PriceRichard Price had an idea that grew into a smartphone application, and then a foundation, that may very well change the way EMS responds to cardiac arrest calls. The idea will certainly save lives, and it all started at a deli over a pastrami and rye.

Birth of an App
“I was out to lunch and was sitting in a deli with a few other people when I heard sirens in the distance,” Price says. “The sirens got louder, and then they pulled up right in front of the deli where I was eating.”

It turned out that the EMS crews were responding to a cardiac arrest call in the building next door. “If I had known, I could have made a difference. I know CPR and I have an AED in my car,” Price says. The event made him think about his smartphone and how the device knew his location and could tell someone else. “The idea came that we could possibly notify someone who was nearby an event using his or her phone,” he says.

That was three years ago, and the result of that event, and Price’s subsequent idea, has been the creation of PulsePoint, which was launched in 2012. Though the technology is sophisticated, taking hundreds of hours and many people to bring the idea to fruition, the actual PulsePoint app is simple. Users who are trained in CPR and have registered with the system as willing to assist in an emergency cardiac arrest situation will be notified on their smartphone if someone nearby is having a cardiac arrest.

Read the full article by Cynthia Kincaid on JEMS.

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January 29, 2013 | by

Free smartphone app, new to Oregon, designed to save lives through crowdsourcing CPR

AppStoreScreenShot300pxRichard Price heard a distant siren and wondered where the emergency crew was headed. The siren’s whine intensified until the crew pulled up outside the deli where Price was having lunch.

Next door, someone was in cardiac arrest: The person’s heart had stopped beating unexpectedly.

Price, who was chief of northern California’s San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District until retiring last year, is trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation. He carried an automated external defibrillator in his car trunk. If he’d known, he could have worked to re-start the victim’s heart during the crucial minutes it took the rescue crew to arrive — minutes that frequently mean the difference between life and death for those in cardiac arrest.

The incident about three years ago inspired what Price considers the best idea he ever had: PulsePoint, a free smartphone application that fires off alerts when CPR may be needed in a public space nearby. It directs bystanders willing to perform CPR to the precise location and tells them where to find publicly accessible automated defibrillators.

Tuesday, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue became the first Oregon fire department to introduce and implement the app. Its developers hope its use spreads to departments across the state — even around the world.

For now in Oregon, those who live or work in, or who travel through TVF&R’s, 220-square-mile service area, and who download the PulsePoint app, could have lifesaving opportunities in their future.

“We see this as another way in which we can partner with the community to save even more lives,” says Mark Charleston, TVF&R battalion chief.

The fire department serves about 450,000 residents from U.S. 30 at its northern edge, to Charbonneau in the south, Sherwood to the west and West Linn to the east. It has a longstanding goal of increasing survival rates for cardiac patients.

Read the full article by Katy Muldoon, at The Oregonian.

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December 10, 2012 | by

App Makes Bystanders Key in Cardiac Arrest Survival

Firehouse Magazine LogoCitizens in a growing number of cities around the U.S. are now getting alerted when there’s an opportunity to perform bystander CPR, thanks to the PulsePoint phone app.

The free app, which notifies trained citizens of nearby cardiac emergencies and the location of the nearest AED, was originally developed and tested by the San Ramon Valley (Calif.) Fire Protection District. It works by connecting a participating agency’s dispatch data into the PulsePoint service so that citizen alerts go out simultaneously with the dispatch of local fire and EMS resources. (Citizen alerts only go out for cardiac emergencies in public places, not to private addresses.) The app shows the victim and the nearby AEDs on a map, in context to the recipient of the alert.

The app has had several updates and releases since it first launched.“The app is in a continuous update cycle,” said Price, thanks to time donated by professional developers at Workday, Inc. “We’re working on a major new version right now.”

In February, after the program had been running locally in San Ramon for over a year, the PulsePoint Foundation opened it up to other agencies. It has quickly spread in California and nationally.

“By the end of the month we expect it to be in more than 100 cities,” said San Ramon Valley Fire Chief Richard Price, who is also the president of the PulsePoint foundation.

Read the full article by Heather Caspi at Firehouse.com.

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May 30, 2012 | by

Enabling Citizen Heroes

This article is reprinted with permission from EMS Insider

Add a mobile app to your CPR program

EMS InsiderWhen it comes to cardiac arrests, a few well-known facts exist: Time is muscle; the window of opportunity to save a patient whose heart has stopped is excruciatingly small; and getting responders who know CPR to the patient as soon as possible provides the best chance for survival. The third fact was brought home to San Ramon Valley (Calif.) Fire Protection District (SRVFPD) Fire Chief Richard Price during lunch one day. While he was eating at a local deli, he heard sirens in the distance. Then he watched as the engine eventually stopped in front of the restaurant. Because he does not receive pages for medical emergencies, he was unaware that someone had collapsed in cardiac arrest just next door. Had he known, he could have been there in seconds to start CPR and use the AED in his vehicle before the crews arrived. This incident gave Price an idea. With the current cell phone technology and GPS, there must be a way to alert staff who may be in the area of a cardiac arrest, he thought. “It was very conceptual at that time. The idea grew out of that,” Price says. The “idea” evolved into a CPR mobile app for the iPhone and Android, that eventually became known as PulsePoint. Price expanded on his original idea to include citizens trained in CPR, who have indicated they’re willing to assist in case of an emergency. The app uses the GPS feature on the phone to locate citizens who have signed up for the program and are in the vicinity of a cardiac arrest patient. Notifications are sent only if the victim is in a public place and only to potential rescuers within walking distance of the emergency. The application also directs rescuers to the exact location of the closest AED. “We crowd source good Samaritans,” Price says. Price knew he needed help to develop the mobile app, so the district partnered with interns from the College of Informatics at Northern Kentucky University. While they worked out the technical details, Price attended to other issues. Initially, some concern was expressed about sending too many rescuers to what can often be a chaotic scene. However, Price says that this seldom happens. “We can always make the notification circle smaller, if we get to that problem,” he says. Even in the limited cases where extra rescuers respond, it hasn’t been an issue, Price says. On one occasion, a person suffered a cardiac arrest at a coffee shop and a large number of rescuers responded. But instead of causing confusion or getting in the way, they did a good job assigning tasks, and those who weren’t directly involved in the rescue attempt helped by clapping to the beat of the chest compressions.

Privacy issues
Price notes that the chain of survival depends on training people in CPR and sending them out into their communities to respond when needed. “The app doesn’t really change that very much. It just takes some of the fate out of it,” he says. Still, certain privacy precautions had to be considered. To protect the rescuer’s information, the app doesn’t know the identity of the responders—it simply locates a “device” by accessing the unique identification number, which is required for the PulsePoint server to locate and send alert messages to a specific device. Price says the app doesn’t access any other information on the responder’s device. “No personal information is ever collected or retained,” he says. Because the activation occurs within an exceptionally limited radius—within walking distance—the app only alerts people to emergencies in their immediate vicinity. “It makes you more aware of what’s happening nearby you,” he says. He says they were also careful to consider possible Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) violations when designing the app. No patient information is ever broadcast or known by PulsePoint. Because PulsePoint doesn’t know who responded, the citizen rescuers are not informed of outcomes. “Occasionally circumstances allow the citizen rescuers to come together with survivors, but it’s a careful, respectful process,” Price says. The issue only becomes problematic if there’s an infectious disease concern.

Where’s the AED?
The biggest hurdle for a seamless citizen CPR response is locating public AEDs. Price says that the district has done a good job of promoting the use of AEDs, but locating them and ensuring they’re properly maintained has been a challenge. “When you’re dispatching people to them, the standard is higher,” he says. “You need to know one is there.” Despite a vigorous awareness program in San Ramon Valley, the use rates of AEDs among citizens are low. Price believes the area for which emergency responders should commit additional resources. “AEDs need to rise to the importance of fire extinguishers,” he says. Some communities are starting to include AED location information in their computer-aided design (CAD) system so dispatchers can provide not only CPR instructions, but also the location of a nearby AED.

PulsePoint foundation
Once the district developed the app, they wanted to share it—and not just with their neighbors. “We want to be around the globe,” Price says. To do so, they created the PulsePoint Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that provides and supports the app free of charge. Supporting services are also provided at no charge to public safety agencies that offer the CPR app in their community. However, charges from the CAD system vendor may occur, which interface with the app. The foundation is working with the CAD vendors to moderate these costs. Currently, the PulsePoint Foundation is working with more than 150 organizations in the deployment of the app.

Community outreach
To launch a successful CPR mobile app program, community outreach is critical. Price recommends a multi-pronged marketing program to encourage citizen awareness and ongoing involvement. The district started with a public service announcement in movie theaters and other venues to raise awareness of both the app and the importance of citizen CPR. SRVFPD used university interns to help develop the PSA. “It was a low-cost way to create tremendous
value,” Price says. The district spent very little public money, and the students received real-world experience. “It gave meaning to their studies,” Price says. “It’s a win-win.” The district continues to promote CPR at all community events, and is working to provide CPR training to all seventh graders in the local school district. It also established a program to manage the maintenance of the approximately 200 public AEDs in the community. “We know where every single one is and have hands on them every six months,” Price says.

Upgrades added
A number of upgrades have been added to the program since the original application launched. A streaming radio function allows citizens to listen to emergency calls anywhere in the world. Most recently, a Twitter feature began broadcasting PulsePoint app CPR activations in real time. The tweet includes the time of activation, the general location and the number of citizen rescuers notified. The goal is to increase awareness of the app and the role it plays in saving lives. The Twitter feed can be found at @1000livesaday, a reference to the number of people who die daily in the U.S. from sudden cardiac arrest. Price says the number of activations is around one per day. On average, 3-4 citizens respond per incident. “I’ve seen as many as 22,” he says. The next release of the app will include a survey tool sent one hour after app users were notified of a need for CPR. The goal is to collect data on the responses to the notifications and create a clearer picture of what happens during the response before the professionals arrive. It will attempt to find out whether a person responded to the notification and if not, why. If they did respond, they’ll be asked whether they performed CPR, if an AED was available, and if so, whether it was used. The optional survey will continue to allow the citizen responder to remain anonymous, if desired. Price says the survey is being developed by Bentley J. Bobrow, MD, medical director of the Bureau of Emergency Services Arizona Department of Health Services; and Steven C. Brooks, MD, MHSc FRCPC, emergency physician and scientist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and assistant professor at the University of Toronto.

Summary
Because CPR has been around for 50 years, Price says sometimes it can be hard to find something exciting about it. But the process of developing the app and sharing it with others has been just that. “We were right at the time in history when it was all possible. Six months earlier, and it would not have been possible,” he says. Through this process, SRVFPD learned something about human beings that they probably already knew—people really want to help others. “This is a way, at no cost, you can make a significant difference in [out-of-hospital cardiac arrest] survivability,” Price says. “Think about the force multiplier—it’s a huge deal.” However, he warns, the app isn’t a panacea. “It works best in systems that are already good,” he says. That means good citizen CPR programs, an active AED strategy and a strong activation policy for ST-elevation myocardial infarction patients. “It ties a lot of things together and makes good systems pay off bigger,” he says. Although good work can often go unrewarded, this isn’t the case for Price. In February, the Danville Area Chamber of Commerce and the San Ramon Valley Times named Price “Citizen of the Year” for his innovative efforts to protect the lives of the citizens in his jurisdiction and beyond.

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April 17, 2012 | by

Nice Compliment to SRVFPD from the Morning Lineup Blog

Morning Lineup BlogOut of the 30,000+ fire departments in the U.S., a goodly number of them have their own web pages by now. But only a small percentage of them have what I would call an excellent or even effective website. Many departments go out of their way to host a website that is truly informative and meant to engage the citizens by telling them useful things. Over the past five years I have looked at untold hundreds of FD websites in the course of putting together this blog each day, and I have seen all manners of fire department websites….all the way from crap-ola to excellent.

“So far, I haven’t seen any that come close to the amazing interactive website hosted by the San Ramon Valley (California) Fire Protection District.”

Read the rest of this post on the Morning Lineup Blog.

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March 13, 2012 | by

EMS: There’s an App For That!

Firehouse MagazineFrom Page 42 of Firehouse Magazine this month (March, 2012).

One of the most profound uses of an app I have seen comes from the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District in San Ramon, CA. In January 2011, the district released an app for the iPhone and other phones that lets any citizen provide life-saving assistance to victims of sudden cardiac arrest. A citizen who is trained in CPR and who has downloaded the app is sent a notification that a cardiac arrest is occurring in the community so that citizen can provide CPR until the fire department arrives. If the cardiac arrest is in a public place, a map shows the location of the closest automated external defibrillator (AED) and where it can be found in the building, such as “mounted on wall on second floor outside main gym entrance.” A setting on that app lets you choose notifications, including fires, and a map shows you exactly where emergencies are occurring. Through its foundation, the district makes the app free to other fire departments to install in their communities.

Read the rest of this article by Chief Gary Ludwig on Firehouse.com.

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January 24, 2012 | by

Location-based App for CPR Responders Spreads to Second City

Kerry Davis of IDG News Service recently rode along with San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District Paramedics and interviewed Fire Chief Richard Price. The article below appeared in CIO Magazine, Macworld and PCWorld.

A location-based phone application that alerts people trained in CPR when someone nearby is having a heart attack will be spreading from San Ramon, California, to San Jose by mid-February, according to San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District Chief Richard Price.

The PulsePoint app sends a notification to a smartphone if the user is close to a possible heart attack victim, but only if the emergency is happening in a public space. The app has been available for more than a year and was recently added to the Android Market in addition to being available in the iPhone App Store.

The PulsePoint Foundation is working with more than 150 agencies that are interested in bringing the PulsePoint app to their communities, from Fargo, North Dakota, to an agency in Sao Paulo, Brazil, said a spokeswoman with the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District.

Users must first confirm that they are CPR-certified, and the app then alerts them if dispatchers are sending EMTs to a potential heart attack victim in a public location. Price says heart attack victims are the focus of the app because resuscitation needs to be started within 10 minutes of the attack if victims are to have a chance of survival.

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