App alerts those trained in CPR to people nearby who need it

App alerts those trained in CPR to people nearby who need it

URBANA — More people in Champaign County could survive cardiac arrest with the help of a free smartphone app designed to mobilize the public to start treatment in the first critical minutes.

The PulsePoint Respond app was launched Monday in Champaign County by Presence Regional EMS and METCAD, the local emergency dispatch agency. It works by alerting users trained to administer potentially life-saving CPR to the locations of nearby cardiac-arrest victims and where to find the nearest automated external defibrillators.

The alerts are sent to the app at the same time the ambulance is dispatched, so anyone nearby can begin treatment before first responders arrive.

Cardiac arrest happens when there's an electrical malfunction of the heart, and it's often deadly because victims don't get help fast enough. Treatment requires immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation to increase the blood flow to the heart and an electrical shock from a defibrillator to stop abnormal heart rhythm.

About 57 percent of U.S. adults have had CPR training, but only about only 11 percent have actually used it in a cardiac-arrest emergency, according to PulsePoint.

Fast treatment for cardiac arrest is so critical, the chance for survival drops 10 percent for every minute that passes without CPR, according to Presence.

Presence officials said it has taken about a year to launch PulsePoint in Champaign County, and they're preparing to make it available in Vermilion County in upcoming months.

Presence Health Regional CEO Dr. Jared Rogers described a possible scenario to consider — someone with the PulsePoint app is standing in line at a grocery check-out counter and receives an alert about a fellow shopper collapsing with cardiac arrest in the produce section. Imagine, he invited, that you're the spouse of that cardiac-arrest victim, and someone who got that alert comes immediately to help.

"As of today, we can start with more life-saving opportunities in our community," he said.

Not every PulsePoint app user in the county is alerted for every cardiac-arrest case. The system generally gets alerts to those within a half-mile radius of the patient, though the vicinity is adjusted depending on how many potential responders are nearby, according to Presence Regional EMS Medical Director Dr. Kurt Bloomstrand. If there aren't enough within a half-mile, for example, the alert would go out in a wider area, he said.

Bloomstrand said getting help to someone in cardiac arrest in the first eight minutes is especially critical for survival. What has been missing to save more lives has been more bystander rescues in the community, he said.

The difference that PulsePoint can make depends on having enough CPR-trained people to come to the rescue, Bloomstrand said. So, in the next few months, Presence will be making more community training in hands-only CPR available, he said.

Hands-only CPR is done without giving rescue breaths. It's administered by pushing hard and fast in the center of the chest.

Greg Abbott, deputy director of METCAD, said PulsePoint was set up in the county with only minimal cost to taxpayers.

PulsePoint is free and available on both the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. It currently has more than 1 million users in 2,500 communities across the U.S.

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