PulsePoint: The Location App That Saves Lives

by • October 23, 2015 • Comments (1)


PulsePoint is a free app that uses location and crowdsourcing tech in the best possible way—to save lives.

At church on Sunday, May 4, 2015, 53-year old California resident Kory Trebbin suffered a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).  Bystanders called 9-1-1, but Mr. Trebbin was unresponsive with no pulse. At the same time that emergency responders were dispatched to the scene, an off-duty ER physician close by received an alert on her smartphone from the PulsePoint app.

Four days later, when he walked out of the hospital, Mr. Trebbin had this to say, “It’s a miracle I’m alive. I’m so thankful to those who called 9-1-1 and to the professional first responders who rushed to the scene. But the reason I’m alive today is because PulsePoint connected me to someone who could, and did, save my life.”

Using Mobile Technology to Prevent Cardiac Death

According to the American Heart Association (AMA), over 300,000 people suffer cardiac arrest each year. About 90 percent of them die.

For the first time, new guidelines developed by the AMA endorse mobile alert systems, noting, “Mobile dispatch systems that notify potential rescuers of a nearby presumed cardiac arrest can improve the rate of bystander CPR and shorten the time to first chest compressions. Communities may want to consider this service to improve the chain of survival.”

Free at the iTunes store or Google Play, PulsePoint is a smartphone app that works through community emergency response agencies. The app is an SaaS platform that enables citizens to respond to local cardiac emergencies ahead of potential rescuers.

The app, which operates only in public spaces, uses location technology to pinpoint the address of a medical emergency. It then notifies potential rescuers of the location of the victim, and the nearest automated external defibrillator (AED) unit.

PulsePoint offers critical help in the following ways:

  • Trained and interested citizens can sign up to offer medical aid in their community, making better use of valuable community-based emergency training. Mobile crowdsourcing of medical assistance creates a stronger local emergency response.
  • PulsePoint reduces the time it takes for a victim to receive CPR, and defibrillation.
  • Outcomes are improved for cardiac victims that receive faster care.

The app was developed by Richard Price, when he served as a fire chief in his California community. At lunch one day, he noticed emergency vehicles pulling up at the location next to the restaurant where he was eating. Unknown to Mr. Price, a patron next door had suffered a heart attack. Carrying an AED in his car, and certified in CPR, Mr. Price wondered about technology that could put out an alert to those in the immediate vicinity of a cardiac victim—and maybe save a life.

Now President of the PulsePoint Foundation, Mr. Price states, “PulsePoint-connected communities don’t need to rely on the luck of having a CPR-trained citizen witness a cardiac arrest. By directly notifying those who are qualified and nearby, PulsePoint helps put the right people in the right place at the right time. PulsePoint builds on the good work that a community has done with CPR training and AED placement and improves the efficiency and use of these resources.”

Strong stats support the need for this kind of app. With over 500,000 downloads, PulsePoint is active in 1,200 communities in 24 states and Canadian provinces. In 6,500 suspected heart attacks, more than 16,000 people were alerted to the need for help in their area.

While the app is a free download, implementation and community licensing are not. The one-time, start-up fee is $10,000, at present, and licensing fees thereafter are based on population numbers, ranging from $8,000 to $28,000 per year.

By offering a higher likelihood of survival after heart attack, PulsePoint drives home the power of mobile.


One Response to PulsePoint: The Location App That Saves Lives

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