A new iPhone app developed by California's San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District will help involve lay citizens in the quest to save victims of sudden cardiac arrest.
When activated, the app uses GPS technology to alert nearby users who are trained in CPR to the cardiac emergency, thus allowing them to come and quickly intervene even if they're not within sight of the collapse. It will also give them the location of the nearest available AED.
The app "completely redefines the traditional meaning of a witnessed arrest by expanding awareness over a much broader area," said District Fire Chief Richard Price. "Providing actionable, real-time information during a sudden cardiac arrest emergency, including mapping the victim and rescuer locations, along with the nearest AED locations, is the quintessential use of GPS technology on a mobile phone today."
San Ramon tested a limited version of the app with more than 22,000 iPhone users for six months before unveiling it publicly in January to enthusiasm from many emergency leaders.
"How forward-thinking of the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District to recognize that lay rescuers are the first link in reducing morbidity and mortality from cardiac arrest," says Cindy Tait, president of the Center for Healthcare Education in Riverside, CA, and a member of EMS World's editorial advisory board. "Kudos to SRVFPD for spending the time and resources to provide actionable and real-time support for lay rescuers with the goal of saving more lives! As the director of a large BLS training center, I relish the concept of implementing this technology with our students and connecting lay rescuers with victims and lifesaving AEDs. In the interim, we are ensuring all our CPR/AED students know how to set their cell phones to speaker mode so they can simultaneously provide hands-only CPR while reporting incidents to 9-1-1 dispatchers."
Around 300,000 people die each year from cardiac arrest in the U.S.; national survival rates are less than 8%. Good, fast CPR and early defibrillation are critical measures to saving its victims. The app strengthens these links, its architects say, and ultimately the entire chain of survival. They will work to spread it.
"The District will share tools to allow other public safety agencies to deploy the application at no cost in their communities," Price said. "The value of this application is far too important to not ambitiously share it."