FAQS

Frequently Asked
Questions

How do I deploy the app in my community?

PulsePoint implementations are typically championed and led by local Fire/EMS agencies. If you are with a public safety agency we are well equipped to assist you through the process. Simply reach out to us at info@pulsepoint.org to get your community PulsePoint connected.

We also receive many inquiries directly from individuals interested in having PulsePoint available in their community. While it is the mission of our foundation to provide seamless PulsePoint coverage across the globe, this will obviously take time. PulsePoint must be integrated into the local emergency call center so that we can access incident data in real time.

Although we are working hard to make public safety agencies aware of PulsePoint, you can definitely help by expressing interest to your local fire chief, EMS official, and elected officials such as your mayor, council member or supervisor. A simple note, phone call or public meeting comment would ensure that they are aware of PulsePoint. Expressing your personal willingness to participate in improving local cardiac arrest survival rates through CPR and AED use would likely be well received and go a long way to help move things up in priority. We have found that City Hall does listen and is quite willing to bring PulsePoint to the community.

Download our factsheet or a sample advocacy letter in Word, PDF or text format.

We are adding PulsePoint-connected communities on an almost daily basis and look forward to adding your community in the very near future.

What are the costs involved in implementing the app?

The costs associated with implementing PulsePoint Respond vary depending on agency size and dispatch environment.

There is no cost to implement any aspect the PulsePoint AED Registry.

What do the colors and symbols on the displayed incidents in the app mean?

The abbreviations are the radio IDs of agency units, such as engines, chief officers and ambulances assigned to the incident. Colors and symbols are used to indicate their current dispatch status as shown here.

Is there a description of PulsePoint incident types like “Public Service” and “Expanded Traffic Collision”?

PulsePoint uses a standardized set of incident types normalized across all Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP) and Computer-aided Dispatch (CAD) system vendors. A complete list with descriptions/meanings is available here.

Does the app raise any HIPAA or other privacy concerns?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects the privacy of individually identifiable health information. On a ‘CPR Needed’ notification, the app reports only an address (in a public place) and a business name, if available. Individually identifiable health information, such as name, birth date, or Social Security Number are not reported or known to the PulsePoint application. In addition, PulsePoint has retained Page, Wolfberg & Wirth, LLC to assist agencies understand legal issues related to the implementation of PulsePoint. PWW is well respected EMS law firm specializing in dispatch liability and HIPAA issues.

The PulsePoint app is a Location-Based Service (LBS) with the ability to make use of the geographical position of your mobile device. The LBS capabilities of the app allow you to see your current location relative to the incidents occurring around you. This is an optional feature that is not enabled by default – you must specially opt-in to utilize this functionality. In addition, if you opt-in to the CPR/AED notification, the PulsePoint server will store your current location for immediate reference during an emergency where you may be nearby. In this case, only the current location of your device is stored (no movement history is maintained) and your identity is never known to the PulsePoint application.

How do you know if people subscribing to the CPR/AED notification are really trained and qualified?

CPR today is very easy to perform and can be learned quickly in informal settings such as community street fairs, group training sessions, take-home DVD-based courses, or even by watching brief online videos. These types of training environments do not provide certificates of other forms of skill documentation. Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) actually require no training to use. Therefore, there is no reason or even ability to verify that someone volunteering to help others with CPR or an AED has been formally trained. Learn how you can help save a life in this one-minute American Heart Association video showing Hands-Only CPR in action.

What does a CPR notification look and sound like?

A CPR notification arrives as a normal push notification. This notification will be accompanied by a distinctive alert tone. Opening the notification will load the PulsePoint app. The screen will display your current location, the general reported location of the cardiac arrest victim, and any nearby Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs). To receive a CPR Needed activation you must have the CPR notification type selected in the Settings Menu and you must be in the immediate vicinity of a reported cardiac arrest. Notification radiuses vary by jurisdiction.

Is there a risk that the app will draw too many bystanders to the emergency medical scene?

Only about a third of Sudden Cardiac Arrest victims receive bystander CPR, and public access Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) are used less than 3% of the time when needed and available. The current situation is far too few bystander rescuers – not too many. The goal of the app is to engage additional bystanders in these lifesaving acts. If this situation was to truly materialize in the future it would be a major success and the radius of the notification could be reduced.

How do you prevent someone from using the CPR/AED notification to steal from or otherwise take advantage of a cardiac arrest victim?

For the app to be activated someone must first call the local emergency number (such as 911) to begin a normal public safety response. This means that the victim is likely not alone when the CPR/AED notifications are made. In addition, the app is only activated for incidents occurring in public places furthering the likelihood that others will be present (only off-duty professional responders are notified of residential cardiac arrest incidents). Also, since the app is only activated on devices in the immediate vicinity of the victim, a “Bad Samaritan” would have little opportunity to be in the right place at the right time.

What is the notification radius for CPR/AED events?

The app aims to notify those essentially within walking distance of the event. However, this distance is configurable based on local needs and response time experience. Higher population densities usually warrant a smaller notification radius. Likewise, rural response times may necessitate a larger notification area.

Can I be successfully sued if I voluntarily help a victim in distress?

The purpose of the Good Samaritan Law is to protect individuals that assist a victim during a medical emergency. Most Good Samaritan laws are created specifically for the general public. The law assumes that there is no medically trained person available to assist the victim. Since the Good Samaritan typically does not have medical training, the law protects him or her from being liable from injury or death caused to the victim during a medical emergency. A general layperson is protected under the Good Samaritan laws as long as he or she has good intentions to aid the victim to the best of his or her ability during a medical emergency. Since each state law has specific guidelines, and this text does not provide a worldwide view of this matter, you should familiarize yourself with the laws or acts applicable to you. A typical example of the wording appears below.

“…a person, who, in good faith, lends emergency care or assistance without compensation at the place of an emergency or accident, and who was acting as a reasonable and prudent person would have acted under the circumstances present at the scene at the time the services were rendered, shall not be liable for any civil damages for acts or omissions performed in good faith.”

Could the app make a CPR/AED notification when CPR isn’t needed?

With dispatchers making rapid over-the-telephone assessments of patients based on the observations of untrained callers, an incorrect determination can be made. For example, such a situation could occur with someone who has just had a grand mal seizure, passed out from too much alcohol, or has a very high blood sugar level. However, if you tried to do CPR on such an individual he or she would probably moan and possibly even try to push you away. Also, an AED would not deliver a shock to a person in any condition where an effective heartbeat was present.

Can PulsePoint be used for CPR-needed notifications only?

No, this is not a supported configuration.

Although PulsePoint is commonly thought of as the “CPR app,” its importance and utility to the community goes much deeper. PulsePoint keeps your community informed of emergency activity in real time. Residents use this information on a daily basis to know when there is an accident on their commute, or if the smoke they smell is an approaching wildfire. They’ll share the routine usefulness of the app with neighbors, family and friends – and in turn they’ll help build and sustain an engaged and reliable network of CPR-trained individuals. This combination is crucial to achieving broad community adoption and sustaining a lifesaving program.

PulsePoint Incident ListPROXIMITY TO VICTIM
Achieving the goal of PulsePoint responders routinely beginning CPR and retrieving a nearby AED prior to the arrival of advanced care requires a significant number of local app users. Communities with a high density of app users greatly improve the odds of having at least one responder within the cardiac arrest activation radius. An app experience that provides daily value to the user is the most important factor in achieving meaningful engagement rates.

CONSISTENT END USER EXPERIENCE
We encourage you to download PulsePoint Respond, follow a few neighboring agencies, and test drive the app as it was designed to be used. You’ll quickly notice that all PulsePoint-connected communities look very similar. That’s because PulsePoint is built and deployed in the cloud, on a single codeline, with every agency in the network on the same version. This allows us to implement and support broadly and inexpensively but also limits our ability to customize for an individual agency.

USER ENGAGEMENT AND RETENTION
PulsePoint Respond configured to only present nearby CPR-needed events in public places would display a blank screen essentially 100% of the time. Our experience with early deployments of this nature was poor on many fronts – most importantly extremely low user engagement and retention, and steadily declining activations due to a diminishing number of available responders. This also created support issues with users not confident that the system was even working.

USER EXPECTATIONS
Our in-app settings and options, marketing materials, user guides and videos, website, app store descriptions, etc. all assume a typical deployment. Nothing would appear or work as described and presented. When the foundation announces new features, they wouldn’t be available in your community – frustrating users on every update cycle.

Real time incident information provides users with confidence that the app is reliably connected to the local dispatch system. It also provides dependable monitoring of the local interface as failures and anomalies are quickly noticed and reported.

TECHNICAL CHALLENGES
Apps that are never brought to the foreground are difficult to keep running properly as battery-efficient mobile device operating systems equate infrequent use to little importance to the user. Foreground usage is fundamental to maintaining access to key resources such as location services. Despite the sea of choice for mobile apps, in real life people tend to reinstall and continue use of only a few that provide them daily utility.

RETURN ON INVESTMENT
The mission of the non-profit PulsePoint Foundation is to help communities improve bystander CPR engagement and public AED use through the use of an innovative mobile app. However, without a sufficiently large number of app users, the value of PulsePoint is limited and likely not a good use of funds and resources. We are confident that the funds allocated for a “CPR-needed only” deployment of PulsePoint would have more impact if directed toward traditional citizen CPR training and public AED programs. Agencies are welcome to use PulsePoint AED and its associated registry and interfaces in conjunction with these initiatives indefinitely and at no cost.

Learn more here.

How does PulsePoint determine if a location is Public?

Typically PulsePoint queries public data sources such as the Residential/Commercial Indicator (RDI) from the USPS (PulsePoint uses the USPS address validation API from SmartyStreets) along with other sources such as the Google Places API to make this determination.

Where does the radio channel audio in the app originate from?

Each agency supplies their own audio feed for use in the app (or can choose to use an existing public feed if available). Originating an official agency feed requires about $400 in hardware and a free account on Broadcastify. See complete setup instructions on our Streaming Radio Channel page. Streaming radio feeds are optional.

Is PulsePoint a non-profit organization?

Yes, the PulsePoint Foundation is a public 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation based in California.