EAGLE COUNTY — Once the code goes out from 911 dispatch, it takes an average of seven to eight minutes for first responders to arrive on scene. That seven or eight minutes can be too long when it comes to someone who is experiencing sudden cardiac arrest.
That’s why Eagle County residents who can perform CPR or know how to work an AED (defibrillator) can now sign up for PulsePoint, a free phone app brought to the area with the help of nonprofit Starting Hearts and the Vail Public Safety Communications Center.
“We’re calling it Neighbor Savers as part of a bigger program to get citizen bystanders to provide CPR or locate public access AEDs,” said Lynn Blake, of Starting Hearts.
When a call comes in to the dispatch center that someone is in cardiac arrest or has stopped breathing, the call will go out to first responders. With the app, the call also goes out to people who have signed up for PulsePoint who are within a half mile of the person in need. The app also helps bystanders locate public access automated external defibrillators (AED).
The idea is that in the minutes that it takes the ambulance or fire engine to arrive, someone half a block away could be performing CPR or locating an AED. The American Heart Association estimates that effective bystander CPR provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest can double or triple a person’s chance of survival.
“All the first responders are signed up for it already as sort of a soft roll out. Now it’s a matter of getting more people signed up,” said Blake.
THE APP’S ORIGIN
The app originated when an off-duty firefighter in California was in his home and heard sirens nearby. He didn’t think anything of it until he later found out that a neighbor down the street had gone into cardiac arrest and had not survived. Meanwhile, he had been nearby, with an AED unit sitting in his car. He began thinking about how similar situations could be avoided and came up with PulsePoint.
The program is still relatively new and only used in about 50 communities around the nation. In Colorado, Vail is only the second community to join the program. To sign up for the app, you should be trained in CPR, and it is also helpful to know how to use an AED, said Blake.
Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and firstname.lastname@example.org.