Apps send people trained in CPR to nearby emergencies

(WOOD)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kent County 911 Communications Center is working to update its technology so calls for various agencies are all on a single system. That upgrade could give the agency the option to link with app programs that may lead to life-saving results.

There are several apps that act like an Amber Alert for cardiac arrests, using GPS to alert people trained in CPR to an emergency nearby.

Nicole Tilton of Ada said the cardiac arrest she survived in November 2009 came down to a matter of minutes. She said the apps are a crucial life-saving tool.

“I really just started to gasp for breath and my husband thought I was having a seizure and realized that I wasn’t having a seizure and it was something more,” Tilton recalled.

Her husband immediately jumped into action:

“He thinks within 30 seconds — because he literally picked me up from the chair, threw me down and started just pumping my chest while my kids were calling 911,” Tilton said.

She credits her survival to immediate CPR.

But what if Tilton’s husband wasn’t there? What if there was a way to quickly alert a neighbor trained in CPR that she needed help?

There are smartphone apps, like one named PulsePoint, designed to bridge the gap between the onset of cardiac arrest and arrival of aid. They use GPS to alert users to a nearby cardiac arrest so they can respond.

“It just takes one person that’s close that’s within two minutes. Maybe the fire department’s within four minutes. That’s two minutes ahead of us that they can get CPR started,” Kentwood Fire Department Chief Brent Looman said.

He said an app like PulsePoint gives a patient a better chance to survive.

It’s a program the Kent County 911 Communications Center would consider after getting all of its dispatch systems on board.

“All the police and fire partners, the EMS community, medical control — there’s a lot of people that have to be involved in which applications we’re going to use locally,” Matt Groesser, the manager of the Emergency Communications Center.

The new technology is still only a possibility, but Tilton hopes it becomes a reality:

“I think it would really, really save lives exponentially,” she said.

There are some security concerns with programs like this, with cyberhacking of delicate information and people using the app to take advantage of others instead of helping them. That’s something Kent County 911 would need to look into before it made a final decision.

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