A small fire department in California, the San Ramon Valley Fire Department, is attempting to to overcome the barriers to AED use in cardiac arrest with, yes, the iPhone. They have created an app, PulsePoint, that alerts users to any cardiac arrest occurring within 500 feet of their location. When a cardiac arrest is reported through the 911 system, an alert is sent simultaneously to app users. The app directs users to the victim as well as provides a map showing the location of the nearest AED.
Each year, 300,000 Americans die of sudden cardiac arrest. If used promptly, AED’s have the potential to save some of these lives. Although 1.5 millions AED‘s are available throughout the U.S. and are required by many states to be present in fitness centers, schools and airports, AED’s are underused as bystanders are often unaware of the location of the victim or the AED. The City of San Ramon hopes their app will solve this problem.
So far, PulsePoint has over 40,000 users and has saved one life. When an individual exercising at a local gym collapsed, eight app users in the vicinity were alerted. Two responded and put the gym’s AED into action. The victim survived.
Putting this app into effect requires a coordinated effort on behalf of local governments. Some states require AED’s to be registered while others do not. App programmers must know the locations of AED’s in order for the app to be effective. Even in states that require AED registration, not all organizations comply with requirements. Despite the challenges to putting this program into practice, other states are beginning to enact their own cardiac arrest alert apps hoping to spread the life-saving potential of the iPhone across the country.