By Sia Papadopoulos
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, 35,000 to 45,000 people die each year in Canada due to a cardiac arrest. In a quest to improve survival rates, health organizations are overtly stressing the crucial role of the bystander. The use of CPR can significantly increase the chances of survival of a cardiac arrest victim, however, every second matters.
“The survival rate of victims of sudden cardiac arrest (outside of a hospital) is approximately 5 percent” – Heart and Stroke Foundation
With many organizations holding free CPR trainings for their community members, the question remains; how do we improve civic engagement and provide immediate attention, in time sensitive situations like cardiac arrests? The organization PulsePoint is proving they have the answer.
Although, there are negative connotations attached to the use of cellphones PulsePoint shows how a cellphone can be used to positively impact communities. With the right use of technology, cellphones can be a crucial factor in saving a life in a cardiac arrest emergency. The non-profit organization has created an app, free of charge for citizens, that notifies trained CPR citizens that someone nearby is in need of resuscitation.
With operations in over 42 states and over 1.4 million subscribers, the organization is hoping to continue to expand globally. PulsePoint has been integrated in Kingston, ON., for a few years, and has just recently been adapted by Vancouver, B.C., province-wide, this past January. Shannon Smith - Vice President of Communications, PulsePoint believes that by putting you at the right place at the right time could potentially save a life.
Smith said: “If I’m a citizen bystander, going about my day in a public place, and I receive a PulsePoint cardiac arrest activation, it’s telling me where I am, where the patient is, the location of the closest AED within my route, and helping me get to that patient as quickly as possible.”
The organization stresses the importance of engaging and empowering citizens in contributing to the health of their community by working alongside medical professionals in improving patient outcomes, and saving lives.
“We don’t really say that you have to be CPR certified or a professional, anyone who has taken some sort of CPR training really could be valuable to someone in need.” – Shannon Smith, VP Communications at PulsePoint
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, “when the heart stops beating, blood is not circulating. Brain death can begin in as little as three minutes.”. Smith believes it takes more than just the work of the Toronto Paramedic Services, to save the life of a cardiac arrest victim.
Smith says: “Even the best first responder response rate could be four, five, or six minutes and that’s incredible especially in large cities. Even with a really, wonderfully run system like Toronto’s, we’re really just trying to help first responders.”
There are countless testimonials of PulsePoint responders available on their website that could be read and watched, proving the success of their cell phone app. Just to name one, Michael Garrison, the father of a one-month-old son, is featured on PulsePoint.
"Your app gave my one-month-old son another fighting chance at life. Your app gives me faith in humanity by exposing the heroes amongst us who don’t hesitate to commit great selfless acts."- Michael Garrison | Father
When will Toronto jump on board? It will take the work of Toronto’s Fire/EMS responders to feel the need of the PulsePoint app for it to be implemented in Toronto, as the app does not come without a cost for the city. Regardless, the first step for Toronto citizens is receiving CPR training.
To find out more on how the founder of PulsePoint, Richard Price, developed the idea to begin with, check out his Ted Talk here.