(TNS) — Naperville, Ill., is the first municipality in Illinois to begin using a smartphone app that will allow people who have CPR and automated external defibrillator (AED) certification to respond to cardiac emergencies in public places, Fire Chief Mark Puknaitis said.
The PulsePoint Respond app informs users of emergency situations within a 12-block radius of their current location in the hope that volunteer help might arrive to provide assistance in those dire minutes before firefighters or EMTs can make it to a location, Puknaitis said.
As a bonus, the app also provides users with the dates, times, locations and natures of all of the department's emergency calls as they are received in much the same way electronic radio "scanners" once allowed citizens to monitor police and fire emergency situations.
"This is just another way of (city officials) communicating to the public and keeping the community safe," Puknaitis said Wednesday. The app provides information "when somebody is having a cardiac (emergency) and is in need of help," he said.
Naperville paramedics since January have been sent out on 70 CPR-related calls and 120 other situations in which someone was not breathing.
Puknaitis said more than half of U.S. citizens know how to perform CPR or use an AED. Local residents with such knowledge and training can step in and help during the estimated six minutes firefighters and paramedics typically have to spend on the road en route to a 911 call, he said.
The app also shows people where they can find the 100-plus publicly accessible defibrillators in Naperville's municipal buildings, parks, schools, churches, hotels and banks. For those unsure of how to use an AED, step-by-step instructions are provided.
While the app does not display addresses of private homes where someone might be having a medical emergency, precise addresses are provided where someone is in need of medical assistance in a public place, Puknaitis said.
Firefighters already have done "dry runs" and performed tests to ensure the app's viability, he said. An estimated 547 people in the Naperville area are already using the app, including city employees and others who discovered its availability on their own.
Puknaitis praised fire department Division Chief Andy Dina, who found the service and worked for about a year with the city's IT department to have the program implemented and made available to the public.
Mayor Steve Chirico also praised the program as "a great reflection" on the city and the fire department, and "an innovation … for the city's everyday use (that will) provide better service for our residents."
The app and information about the program can be found by linking to the city's website at naperville.il.us/pulsepoint.
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