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.




Travis said...

I downloaded the app and must says it's pretty good. I live near station 6 and got notified of a medical emergency on S. 48th. It was about 1-2 minutes before I heard the sirens go off at the station. Pretty advanced app to send out notices that quickly.

Have a few big questions though. What is the legal liability with this app? If a citizen responds to a medical emergency before paramedics, performs CPR etc., and the patient ends up dying, could that citizens be held liable or be sued? What if a citizen gets a notification, goes to see the situation, but chooses not to assist? Violation of the tort law with duty to rescue? I am concerned since this app doesn't prove you're CPR trained before allowing you to get notifications on where medical emergencies are at. Fear would be people showing up performing CPR after watching some YouTube videos and downloading this app. Let's hope they stayed at a Holiday Inn Express. Plus this app also shows where accidents and fire emergencies are. Are we going to have people rushing to these scenes who are not qualified to do anything?


Tom Casady said...


In order:

1. Nebraska Revised Statute 25-21,186: No person who renders emergency care at the scene of an accident or other emergency gratuitously, shall be held liable for any civil damages as a result of any act or omission by such person in rendering the emergency care or as a result of any act or failure to act to provide or arrange for medical treatment or care for the injured person. (very similar laws in other states)

2. Its anonymous. Nobody, not even PulsePoint, knows who you are and whether you chose to respond or not. There is no account, no login, and you have provided no information.

3. Hands-only CPR is easy, and we often coach people through it over the phone. The fact that you don't have a certification card in your wallet doesn't mean you can't save someone's life. Happens all the time. It's good to get training (the Red Cross provides classes), but the lack thereof should not prevent someone from helping. And by the way, the American Heart Association website has a hands-only CPR training video that's only 2.5 minutes long--they are a pretty authoritative source.

4. As Dr. Jason Kruger said at yesterday's news conference, you won't hurt someone in cardiac arrest by performing CPR. There's pretty good published research to back that up, the risk is incredibly low and the alternative is not promising for the victim.

5. On the contrary, my experience has been that most people who become aware of such things in the old-fashioned way (the radio) are inclined to reroute themselves to avoid a traffic jam. The scanner enthusiasts have been following these kinds of events forever. Over 1,100 other agencies are using PulsePoint (more than 35,000 people in San Diego alone) and nobody has reported an uptick in unwelcome lookie-loos.

Travis said...

Thanks for the quick answers. If this app saves only 1 life, it's well worth it. Interested to see how 911 call-centers are 5-10 years from now. All computer automated with app notifications going to the fire stations? Maybe even being able to "call in" an emergency with an app on your phone instead of dialing 911 and having to speak to someone.

Tom Casady said...


Both are in the works for us now, and already implemented in some cities. Google "fire station alerting" and "next generation 911"

Anonymous said...

This is a great thing. Thinking like this will save lots of lives down the road. Maybe I will have to rethink my ideas about "Smart Phones".
Gun Nut