Saving lives through an app

Sara Van Cleve
Posted

Smart phones these days can do much more than just making a call — and now that includes saving a life.

The Arvada Fire Protection District launched its own channel on the PulsePoint smart phone app on Aug. 5.

Once someone downloads the free app and sets Arvada Fire as their host location, the app alerts the user if a person in a nearby public place goes into cardiac arrest and needs hands-only CPR.

“All you need is CPR knowledge, you don’t have to be certified, just have knowledge of how to do chest compressions and it will notify you if CPR is needed in a public place within walking distance of where you are,” said Arvada Fire public information officer Scott Pribble.

Using GPS technology, the app notifies users about emergencies within about a 1,000 foot radius of where they are in a public place, such as a store, restaurant or park.

“I know it has saved lives,” Pribble said.

The app does not take the place of calling 911, though, and residents still need to call 911 if an emergency happens.

“The system does not generate a notification until someone calls 911,” Pribble said. “The notification happens after someone calls dispatch.”

Arvada Fire’s involvement with PulsePoint began about a year ago.

“We found the app, and it seemed like a fantastic application and a great way to notify people who are ready and willing to respond when there is a cardiac emergency,” Pribble said. “Once the heart stops pumping, there’s 10 minutes until there is no chance of survival. Once you start CPR, that time starts over again and they have an increased chance of surviving.”

According to the American Heart Association, chest compression-only CPR, done to the beat of the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive,” is just as effective as mouth-to-mouth CPR.

“Big deterrents for people are they’re grossed out by mouth-to-mouth and even with the barrier, it’s awkward and uncomfortable, but hopefully more people will learn compression-only and become more comfortable performing it,” Pribble said.

Anyone who is notified about an emergency and responds is protected under the Good Samaritan Law also, Pribble said.

“The Good Samaritan Law will protect you as long as you don’t do more than you’re trained to do, so if you’re trained and your certification has expired or you just do compression only, you’re protected,” he said.

Within the first day of Arvada Fire’s channel launch, a couple hundred people had already signed up and Pribble said he hopes more continue to do so.

About 25 fire departments across the country currently use PulsePoint.

PulsePoint users can also choose their settings to receive updates about other Arvada Fire activity, such as when they respond to vehicle accidents or fires.

“The app can ding your phone when there’s a house fire, for example, but residents don’t respond to it,” Pribble said. “The app shows every call we’re responding on. People won’t get notified, but they can check in on the app and see call volume and what the fire department has responded to recently, if they are into that kind of thing.”

The app is free and is currently available for iOS and Android devices.