DC will start using app to speed CPR to heart attack victims - Technical.ly DC


Oct. 27, 2017 11:17 am

DC will start using app to speed CPR to heart attack victims

Pulsepoint sends alerts to CPR-trained individuals when a person suffers a heart attack nearby. It's one of a number of tech upgrades to the District's emergency response.
Pulsepoint sends alerts to help save lives.

Pulsepoint sends alerts to help save lives.

(Photo via Facebook)

On Thursday, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that D.C. will roll out a smartphone app that’s designed to save lives called Pulsepoint. The app, already in use in communities throughout the country, will send smartphone notifications to CPR-trained individuals to alert them if a cardiac arrest is reported to 911 in their area. Here’s why this app is a big deal, and how tech is playing a role in modernizing the District’s emergency response system.

How does it work?

When a heart attack is called into 911, notifications will be immediately sent to CPR-trained individuals who have the app and are within a quarter of a mile of the scene. By allowing life-saving aid to be performed before the first responders arrive, the app aims to dramatically improve survival rates of heart attack victims.

Immediate aid is seen as vital to surviving a heart attack. According to the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association, heart attack victims are more than twice as likely to survive if given immediate CPR. In fact, each minute that passes decreases a victim’s chance of survival by 7-10 percent. Unfortunately, sometimes first responders simply cannot arrive on the scene in time.

With 350,000 Americans suffering heart attacks each year, and with a mortality rate of 95 percent, there is ample room for tools like Pulsepoint to harness the power of modern interconnectivity to save lives.

Pulsepoint already has more than 1 million users across 2,700 communities and 38 U.S. states. Close to home, the app is already in use in Maryland’s Howard and Prince George’s Counties, as well as Prince William County in Virginia. In fact, this past summer a Howard County man’s life was saved at work when a Pulsepoint user was able to perform critical life-saving aid to keep him alive before first responders arrived on the scene.

It’s part of tech’s role in growing the District’s emergency response system.

This app is part of a growing $12 million effort by the Bowser Administration and D.C. Council to improve the District’s emergency response system to accommodate an increasing demand.


Innovative technology solutions are set to play an important role in these efforts. An example of this is Mayor Bowser’s announcement yesterday that the District will join the Atrus National AED Registry, a national database that tracks all AED locations and allows 911 operators to quickly locate them for bystanders to use.

Another example is Mayor Bowser’s announcement this year that District residents will now be able to send text messages to request emergency services when a 911 phone call is not possible. Moves like this show a recognition on the part of the Bowser Administration that cellphones can be and are an important tool in helping improve emergency response here in the District.

The app was built by volunteers.

The app was developed back in 2009 by San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District (SRVFPD) of California and the College of Informatics at Northern Kentucky University (NKU), and appeared in the Apple Store in 2010.

But by 2011, facing increasing demand, the app needed a serious upgrade to scale across the United States and gain the ability to integrate with thousands of dispatching centers.

This is where the software vendor Workday came into play. Software developers at the company volunteered to help develop the app to work across multiple jurisdictions, handle worldwide interest and work with Android phones.

Only time will tell if apps like Pulsepoint – harnessing the power of connectivity in a smartphone world – will eventually become staples of modern emergency response systems. Here at home in the District, we’ll have a chance to see how it all plays out on the homefront.


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