Saturday, October 31, 2015

Many more Thanksgiving dinners

Last week, two Lincoln police officers were in the right place at the right time, when a 42 year old man suffered cardiac arrest at a hotel. The victim's wife called 911 and with help from a dispatcher, started CPR. Two officers arrived within three minutes, and took over CPR until firefighters from Station 12 arrived five minutes later, and a return of spontaneous circulation ensued.

We received a phone call yesterday from the patient's wife, with an update on his condition and her expression of gratitude. What a great team effort by dispatcher, police officers, firefighters, and the medical team at the hospital! As a result, this man who would otherwise have passed away is returned to the bosom of his family, to enjoy many more Thanksgiving dinners.

Can you imagine the feeling of knowing you played a role in something like this? You could. If you or someone you know would be interested in becoming a dispatcher, police officer, or firefighter in Lincoln, we are always looking for intelligent, dedicated, flexible, and compassionate women and men who want to make a difference in their community--not only in big ways like this, but in small but significant ways that occur for every first responder every single day.

We are also hoping that more and more people will download the remarkable PulsePoint application, and put themselves in the position that these two police officers were in--close to a victim who needs CPR, and able to take action immediately pending the arrival of EMTs and paramedics. Three phones got the PulsePoint alert on this incident, and had it not been 2:07 AM, might have been the ones. Since the launch of PulsePoint in Lincoln, 12 CPR alerts have been delivered to 70 phones.

There are many people out there willing to help, and it is probably inevitable that the stars will align and put a PulsePoint user in the perfect place at just the right time.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

We'll keep looking around

A bit of a kerfuffle occurred last week, revolving around our attempts to find suitable land for the four fire stations which will be built with funding from the voter-approved sales tax increase in Lincoln. Although it will be quite awhile before we turn a shovel, we need to find sites, and either purchase land or acquire a first-right-of-refusal. Otherwise, when the time comes to build, we may find that all the suitable parcels have evaporated. We are not the only ones looking for reasonably-priced building sites with good access to arterial streets in rapidly-developing areas. Go figure.

One of the more problematic locations identified in our optimization study is the S. 84th Street and Pioneers Boulevard area. We really need to be within a half mile radius of the intersection, and the pickings are getting slimmer as time passes. So earlier this year, when we were contacted by an owner of two parcels that abut 84th Street about a quarter mile south of Pioneers, we expressed an interest. Before we signed an agreement, however, we thought it wise to meet with the neighbors, and sent a letter to all the property owners within 500 ft. of this potential site.

Last Wednesday night, Assistant Chief Pat Borer and Battalion Chief Eric Jones heard an earful--so much so that we have put negotiations on hold for the time being, and are studiously looking at every other potential site within that half-mile radius. We're checking to see if any other suitable sites are for sale, large enough, have access to the streets, and would meet our needs. We are happy to do so, and my fingers are crossed.

We want to be good neighbors. Right now, 11 of our 14 fire stations are right next to residences, directly across the street, or both. While you might have your conversation interrupted by a siren from time to time, for the most part I think a fire station can be a very good neighbor, and far better than some other land uses that you tend to see along busy five lane arterial streets.

This new station near 84th and Pioneers replaces the extant Station 12, which is about a mile and a half further north. That station is woefully inadequate, and falling into disrepair. Our optimization study found that if it was relocated we could dramatically improve our coverage and response times to areas of Lincoln that have developed since it's original construction in the 1970's.

A lot of the concerns our staff heard last week dealt with lights and sirens. Station 12 is not among our busiest, nor our least busy fire stations. So far this year, Engine 12 has made 232 emergency runs between the hours of 10:30 PM and 6:30 AM--less than one per day during those hours. This time period is the slowest portion of the day for emergency calls, so it's not as if the din is constant late at night and in the wee hours of the morning. About a third of those emergency runs went south of Pioneers, so Engine 12 was driving right by those same residences.

I think our other three optimal locations will be somewhat less problematic. In the meantime, we will keep looking for the best place to relocate Station 12, with an eye on the cost of land acquisition, suitability of the building site, impact on response time and coverage, and concerns of neighbors. Lots of things have to be considered and balanced.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

PulsePoint update

I just got back from Washington, DC where I participated in my first meeting after being appointed to the Law Enforcement Forecasting Group, a DOJ think tank composed of both academicians and egghead-leaning practitioners like me. We had lively discussions on issues of concern now and in the future for American policing. I'm working on a blog post about one of those issues, but it's a slow go.

In the meantime, I just sent an internal email to some of the staff most interested and involved in our PulsePoint initiative, providing a status update. It's probably worth sharing, so here's the latest:

"As of 0800, we have 3,011 people who've downloaded PulsePoint and are following LF&R. Richard Price, the foundation president, tells me that a good target for a community is to reach 1% of the population within the first year. We blew by that in the first week, so I think we've done pretty well. 
In all, 8 alerts have landed on 29 phones since the soft launch on Sept. 2nd. I suspect that's about the volume we will see--around 4 to 6 incidents in public places per month of a call type that generates an alert.  
One of the big benefits I'm seeing is a greater awareness by citizens of the volume and variety of what we do. We're generating some in-person, on blog, and twitter comments about that, and a it has come up in a couple radio interviews I've done this month. That's a good thing. The traffic crash alerts in particular seem to be valued: about 850 people receive those alerts right now, and there seems to be an immediate uptick of a few new followers after each one.  
We've also had quite a bit of activity in new AED registrations spurred by PulsePoint. Back on July 17, we had 155 AEDs registered in Lincoln, and we now have 268. 
The American Heart Association just released their latest CPR and ECC guidelines on Thursday, and for the first time include a recommendation for mobile apps such as PulsePoint. The post on their blog yesterday summarizes:  

Friday, October 16, 2015

The story behind PulsePoint

I blogged earlier this week about PulsePoint, a remarkable application that uses location-based services to deliver CPR alerts to nearby citizens who could potentially be rescuers. There is an interesting back story to PulsePoint, by it's founder, Richard Price.

He tells the full story in this 12 minute TEDx, but here's the condensed version: he's the fire chief in San Ramon Valley, California. One day he's grabbing lunch at a deli when he hears sirens approaching. One of his own rigs ultimately pulls up right outside the deli and the crew jumps out and attend to a sudden cardiac arrest in the shop rnext door. Had he known about it, he could have been there almost immediately and rendered care to the patient until more help arrived.

The experience made Chief Price think about how he might be able to use the concept of location-based services to notify willing citizens of these events when they occurred in public places nearby. CPR by a bystander is critical to improving the odds of survival. Perhaps the geo-aware feature of the smartphone could harness the good will of many who would gladly help save a life if the opportunity presented itself.

This is a brilliant application of location-based services, and one that has and will continue to save lives. Interestingly, Chief Price had this thought at about the same time,as I did, back in November of 2009 when the concept of P3i jumped into my head as I used Google maps to navigate to the nearest craft brewery in Los Angeles on a business trip.

Two chiefs, same idea, both in need of some iOS and Android developers. One was a pretty good idea for its time, which was at the dawn of the modern smartphone. The other was a genuine life saver. Doubt that? Google "PulsePoint saves".

Monday, October 12, 2015

Tips for using PulsePoint

If you've downloaded PulsePoint, good for you. If not, I wish you'd consider doing so. We blew by my initial goal of 1,200 over the weekend and cracked 2,400 followers last night, which is mighty encouraging. There are a couple of features in PulsePoint I want to point out that I think might be of particular interest, completely apart from the CPR-needed-in-public-place alert that is its primary purpose.

The first is the public safety radio feed. Down at the bottom of the list of recent dispatches is a red tab. Tap it, and it slides up to reveal a toggle to turn the radio feed on and off. Its pretty nice, when you see a big event, to toggle on the radio for a few minutes to listen to the transmissions. You can usually figure out quickly whether it's a big deal or not. The feed is actually stereo: fire & rescue on the right, police on the left. If you use earbuds, you'll get the separation. I use a Bluetooth connection to send the audio to my car stereo, which is really slick. The balance control allows me to emphasize and/or mute one or the other if I wish, and the left-right separation actually lets you make sense of both at the same time.

The second feature is the ability to set alerts for other kinds of calls, like structure fires and hazmat incidents. I particularly like the alerts for vehicle accident and expanded vehicle accident. These calls are the injury traffic crashes to which Lincoln Fire & Rescue responds. The expanded collisions are the ones with multiple patients, severity or where the mechanism of injury is more dangerous, such as an overturned vehicle, a car-motorcycle collision, and so forth.

The expanded injury crashes involve several emergency vehicles, unlike your typical fender-bender. Thus, setting an alert for one or both of these accident types will give you advance notice of a potential traffic snarl. These alerts will usually arrive on your phone even before the dispatcher has had the opportunity to speak the words needed to send the first responders. In PulsePoint, go to settings, and you'll see the list of incident types you can choose from for alerts on your phone.

Here's a few more tips to consider:

  • Didn't sign up for CPR alerts because you haven't had training in a while? No problem, the American Heart Association can teach you the basics in 90 seconds. There are other ways to help at a cardiac arrest, too: look for the AED, wait outside to show the paramedics the way, comfort the family, etc..  Don't let the fact that you're not carrying a card in your wallet keep you from being the one.
  • CPR alerts will only be received when the incident is at a public place and you are within a quarter mile. All the other alerts, though, are not tied to your location--you will get those on fires, crashes, hazmat, and so forth regardless of where you are.
  • You can follow other agencies, for example a city to which you are traveling, or your Mom's home town--as long as it is a PulsePoint-connected community.
  • While hands-only CPR is easy, more training is always a good thing. The Red Cross offers lots of opportunities for individuals, and if you're an employer or the team leader, maybe you should sponsor one for everybody!
  • Too many alerts bothering you? I'd suggest picking only CPR and Expanded Vehicle Accident to reduce the volume and still get the ones that are most important. Also, find the "do not disturb" setting on your phone, and select those times of day that you do not want to be buzzed.
  • Do you tweet? If so, the PulsePoint foundation has a twitter feed that republishes all the CPR alerts that are sent out from agencies nationwide, which is rather interesting to see @1000livesaday.
  • If you happen to have an Apple Watch, these notifications will work very well on your wrist.
  • PulsePoint is a smartphone app, but it will run on your iPad. It's a bit tricky to find it in the app store: you'll need to search for PulsePoint (it is NOT the blue Elevon app), then tap the "iPad Only" link at the top left and change to "iPhone only."
  • PulsePoint AED is a companion app for crowdsourcing information about AEDs in the community. The icon looks the same, but is yellow. Information from the public helps us keep the data current, and we appreciate your contribution to the database!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Get the app. Save a life.

We are launching PulsePoint in Lincoln today, a remarkable application that connects willing citizens with nearby emergencies where CPR may be needed. If you have the PulsePoint app installed on your smartphone, and you are within walking distance of a sudden cardiac arrest in a public place like a shop or restaurant, you'll receive an alert and directions.

PulsePoint is free. It requires no information from the user. All you is download it from iTunes or Google Play, and go through the iPhone setup or Android setup. I'm hoping to convince a few thousand people in Lincoln to do so in the next year. It can just sit there next to Angry Birds until the day it might help you become a hero.

If you're a law enforcement officer, firefighter, health care professional, Red Cross volunteer, or dispatcher, you should have PulsePoint. If you're a teacher, mechanic, bartender, or anyone else who carries a smartphone, you should have it too, because you may be the one who is in the right place at the right time to save a life.

PulsePoint is relatively new, but already in use in hundreds of localities. Reports of saves are beginning to trickle in from around the country. It is inevitable that more stories like this will continue to unfold:

Along with the CPR alerts, PulsePoint also has some other nice features: you can follow all the Lincoln Fire & Rescue dispatches, there is a toggle to monitor our public safety radio feed, and you can sign up for other kinds of alerts such as injury traffic crashes and fires. PulsePoint is tapping directly into the 911 Center's computer-aided dispatch system, so you are receiving these alerts at the same time or even slightly before the first responders.

Given our volume of cardiac arrests (and the fact that only a fraction of those occur in public places) the number of PulsePoint CPR alerts in Lincoln will be relatively small--a handful per month. But these incidents do happen, as these great local stories from earlier this year attests. There is always the possibility that you will be the person who is able and willing to help save a life.