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February 14, 2017

Pilot Program Leverages Off-Duty Professional Firefighters, Technology and Defibrillators to Save Lives

Each year, approximately 350,000 cardiac arrests occur outside a hospital setting in the United States. Nearly 90 percent of these events prove fatal, and the chance of survival decreases by ten percent with every passing minute without CPR.*

Though survival rates in the Northwest exceed the national average, a coalition of professional first responders, clinicians, researchers and a leading medical equipment manufacturer aim to make the region the frontrunner in cardiac arrest response and survival.

The PulsePoint Foundation, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, International Association of Firefighters Local 1660 and automatic external defibrillator (AED) manufacturer Philips Healthcare have partnered to launch the Verified Responder Pilot Program that will activate off-duty professional firefighters to respond to cardiac arrest calls in public and private settings. Participating professional firefighters are also certified emergency medical technicians or paramedics who receive background checks in the state of Oregon.

Philips Healthcare is loaning every participating firefighter an AED so that if they respond, they can employ the same technology that is used by emergency medical responders and physicians to restart a heart that has stopped beating. The effort will gather important data from the pilot and combine it with existing technology and clinical insights to inform future lifesaving strategies and products. During the pilot, King County EMS (WA) will be assisting in programmatic evaluation for potential expansion to additional communities. King County currently leads the nation in survival rates for cardiac arrest victims.

Quotes from participating organizations in Verified Responder Pilot Program:

PulsePoint Foundation

“In the way PulsePoint Respond has engaged citizens to respond to public cardiac arrests, the Verified Responder Pilot Program could fundamentally change how off-duty first responders are utilized during time-critical emergencies occurring in private locations. First responders typically see one-third of personnel on-duty while two-thirds are off-duty. By automatically notifying nearby off-duty professionals when dispatching first responders, the potential to save lives on incidents such as cardiac arrest increases significantly.”

“Firefighters know all too well that their skills are sometimes needed when off-the-clock. In some ways, PulsePoint Verified Responder simply formalizes the ‘always in service’ dedication and full time commitment that comes with the badge. The PulsePoint Foundation salutes the TVF&R firefighters for their leadership in this pilot program and for their strengthened pledge of around-the-clock service to the community.”

- Richard Price, president and founder of the PulsePoint Foundation

Philips Healthcare

“Despite the widespread availability of AEDs today, people are not always aware of them and don’t know how easy they are to use. People may still hesitate to intervene when someone is experiencing a sudden cardiac arrest. We understand that the moments between someone’s heart stopping and when the emergency responders get to the scene are crucial, and we are grateful for the opportunity to be part of this important pilot program. The faster help is able to intervene, the greater opportunity for another life saved.”

-Joe Sovak, General Manager, Emergency Care and Resuscitation, Philips.

King County EMS

"This program has great potential to save lives. If demonstrated effective it will serve as a model for the rest of the nation."

-Mickey Eisenberg, MD, PhD, Director of Medical QI, King County EMS

"In resuscitation, rescuers are literally snatching life from the jaws of death. This challenge is great and we need to take advantage of innovative ideas if we are to save more lives from cardiac arrest. The Verified Responder program is a remarkable community project - the first of its kind in the US - that brings together the best of public service, technology, and medical care to save lives from cardiac arrest. The program may transform the way we approach this leading cause of death and provide a new and effective strategy for resuscitation."

-Tom Rea, MD, Medical Program Director, King County EMS

Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue

"Sudden cardiac arrest remains a major killer in the United States. Although survival has improved in some communities, there is large geographic variation across the country with survival rates ranging from 1% to 20%. Two of the key links in the American Heart Association’s “Chain of Survival” are early CPR and timely defibrillation. The PulsePoint Verified Responder program addresses both of these needs in communities that are trying to improve their survival. TVFR has been actively involved in ways to improve survival from SCA and was the first fire agency to introduce Pulse Point in Oregon. Our line personnel are dedicated to reversing the tragedy of SCA which often strikes its victims without any warning. We are honored to be part of this pilot effort that has the potential to improve survival rates dramatically in the United States."

-Mohamud Daya, MD, EMS Medical Director for Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue and Washington County

Consolidated Communications Agency (9-1-1)

“Four years ago, we were the first fire department in Oregon to launch PulsePoint’s app for citizen responders. We are humbled to partner with them again as the first agency to pilot the Verified Responder program and hope that it’s the beginning of a national movement. Having lost my own father from sudden cardiac arrest, I am personally and professionally committed to sparing other families from potential heartbreak.”

-Fire Chief Mike Duyck, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue.

About the PulsePoint Foundation

PulsePoint is a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Through the use of location aware mobile devices, PulsePoint is building applications that work with local public safety agencies to improve communications with citizens, empowering them to help reduce the millions of annual deaths from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). Deployment of the PulsePoint app can significantly strengthen the “chain of survival” by improving bystander response to cardiac arrest victims and increasing the chance that lifesaving steps will be taken prior to the arrival of emergency medical services (EMS). PulsePoint is built and maintained by volunteer engineers at Workday and CTIA Wireless Foundation is a key sponsor and advocate of PulsePoint, providing industry and financial support. Learn more at or join the conversation at Facebook and Twitter. The free app is available for download on iTunes and Google Play.


Source: Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue