(Photo courtesy of PulsePoint.org)

by William Biersack

According to the American Heart Association, each year approximately 383,000 cardiac arrests occur outside of the care of a hospital. If a bystander provides cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately after a sudden cardiac arrest, the victim’s chances of survival can be doubled or even tripled.

A serious problem with those odds is that out of all cardiac arrest victims, only 32 percent get CPR from a bystander. In addition, less than eight percent of people who suffer from cardiac arrest outside of the hospital survive. One of the leading causes in the lack of civilian assistance is as simple as being unaware of the situation. A person trained in CPR could be right next door and no one would know to get help.

In an effort to combat these potentially fatal statistics, the PulsePoint Foundation has created an application for both Apple and Android that can empower individuals with the ability to provide life-saving assistance when it is needed.

According to the PulsePoint Foundation website, “communities can now use the application to dispatch CPR-trained citizens to major cardiac emergencies where the potential need for bystander CPR is high.” If there is a cardiac arrest emergency and a CPR-trained user is within walking distance of the site, the app will send a push notification followed by a distinct alert tone and a map display showing the location of the emergency. The application also informs citizen rescuers where the nearest Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is located in real-time and in context of their current location.

In addition to potentially life-saving notifications, the application allows users to view the communication centers of PulsePoint-enabled emergency agencies. Mobile users have real-time access to emergency activity as it’s occurring in these communities. If there is an accident up ahead causing heavy traffic, users can just tap the application to find the incident location or plan an alternate route.

Unfortunately, this application is only available in communities that have adopted this service. Currently, Newburgh and the surrounding areas in the Hudson Valley are not covered by PulsePoint. This will hopefully change, as public awareness of this service continues to grow and the benefit of such a service becomes more apparent.