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South Bend First Responders Push CPR App to Residents

Staggering national statistics show that nearly 60 percent of cardiac arrest victims don’t receive help until EMS arrives, but first responders in the Indiana city are hoping a smartphone-based tool can help change that.

by Lincoln Wright, South Bend Tribune / July 17, 2019

(TNS) — South Bend-area fire departments have teamed up and are asking the public to help them saves lives by downloading a phone app.

PulsePoint is an application that pulls 911 calls and alerts users to fires and medical emergencies. Local first responders hope community members download the app and set it to alert when someone in the user’s vicinity is in cardiac arrest. That way, if he or she is closer than EMS, CPR can begin sooner.

Partnering with PulsePoint also allows 911 dispatchers to see if there are any defibrillators in the area of a call. The dispatcher can then tell the caller where to get one. Before, dispatch would have no way of knowing if there was a defibrillator around, said Nancy Lockhart, fire operations chief for the dispatch center.

“It gives us an added level of technology,” she said. “We know early defibrillation can save lives. Having this is amazing.”

Jaren Kilian, assistant fire chief for Clay Township, said “Every second counts. Every second can save a life. We are living in the information age and we must harness the power of technology to improve the way we respond to emergencies.”

While Killian encourages people to get CPR training, not having training shouldn’t stop someone from getting this app and helping when needed, officials say. Dispatchers are trained to talk callers through administering CPR and using a defibrillator, Lockhart said, and they will be with the person every step.

Nationally, nearly 60 percent of sudden cardiac arrest victims don’t receive CPR until EMS arrives, according to PulsePoint. Every minute a person goes without CPR after a cardiac arrest decreases their chances of survival by 10 percent.

St. Joseph County is only the second area in the state to use PulsePoint. It was made possible by a partnership between Clay and Penn townships, South Bend, Mishawaka and the 911 dispatch center. The fire departments equally split a one-time cost of $20,500 and the plan is to continue to split the annual upkeep cost of about $10,500. St. Joseph County covered the cost to have PulsePoint interface with the dispatch center.

Kilian said the departments don’t have any concerns about people using the app and helping provide CPR if needed. But for that to happen, people need to use the app.

“The only concern,” he said, “is getting people to download the app.”

©2019 the South Bend Tribune (South Bend, Ind.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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