PulsePoint app adopted by Kent County for those in need of CPR

DOVER — The next time a CPR-trained Kent Countian springs into action to help someone in cardiac distress, it may be via an alert from the PulsePoint app on their phones.

Kent County Levy Court commissioners unanimously agreed late last month to approve an initial startup investment of more than $14,000 and an annual $8,000 subscription fee for the services of the app that will alert users when someone nearby is in need of CPR. Kent County Director of Public Safety Colin Faulkner is so confident in the app, he “guarantees” it’ll save lives.

“The idea is to slim down the response time to people having a cardiac event,” he said. “We already deploy our paramedics very quickly, but this covers a void that has been a problem for first responders for decades and decades across the whole country. We deploy paramedics from four different locations in the county. But no matter how fast we are, the reality is that if someone isn’t there to perform CPR within four minutes of the onset of a cardiac arrest, irreversible brain damage can begin to occur.”

The most common emergency Kent County paramedics respond to are cardiac arrests — an estimated 30 per month, Mr. Faulker said. He expects that number to continue the gradual upward trend it’s been on as the county’s average demographic continues to age.

Through the use of the app, a user can be alerted the moment a cardiac arrest is reported. They will also be alerted to the location of the nearest publicly available Automated External Defibrillator (AED) device. Getting a CPR-trained person to someone experiencing a cardiac event even a minute or two sooner than paramedics can drastically increase positive outcomes, said Mr. Faulkner.

“What it’ll do is keep the patient viable,” he said. “The more distance from the onset of the cardiac event to the onset of care, the less probability you have for a successful resuscitation.”

Occasionally, when paramedics arrive on scene, someone is already performing CPR — either because someone trained happened to be nearby or someone is being coached by the dispatcher over the phone — but the PulsePoint app can help ensure that this becomes the rule rather than the exception, Mr. Faulkner said.

Although the company is still installing the requisite software and the program won’t be live in the county for about another month, Mr. Faulkner encouraged anyone interested to install the free-to-use app by searching “PulsePoint” in their phone’s app store. More can be learned about the app by visiting PulsePoint.org.

Another important volunteer function of the app is cataloging all of the AED devices in the county that are available to the public. To do this, users take a photo of one they’ve discovered, write a brief description of the location and submit it. Afterward, a public safety employee will follow up, validate the location and input it into the system.

“We’re already starting to get photos of AEDs in the county and validating them,” said Mr. Faulkner.

Both Sussex County and New Castle County also make use of PulsePoint. Mr. Faulkner said he’s already heard news of the app functioning as intended and saving lives.

For anyone interested in CPR training, Mr. Faulkner suggested visiting redcross.org or heart.org.

“Anyone interested should look into it. It’s inexpensive and not difficult,” he added.

“Also, the Good Samaritan Act goes a long way toward protecting people who want to help in our state so people shouldn’t be worried about that. Even if your CPR certification is expired, we’d much rather have someone there doing something to help than not. It’s the difference between good and bad outcomes. We are certain that given a year’s time, the app is going to save lives.”

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