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This app will save your life

If you know someone who has suffered cardiac arrest, you understand that time plays a critical factor in survivability.

Cardiac arrest is when a person’s heart stops beating. Typically, cardiac arrest is caused by a malfunction in the heart’s electrical system causing the heart to stop beating properly. Cardiac arrest can result in death within minutes if proper life-saving intervention does not happen quickly.

Life-saving interventions such as CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) can be performed by anyone anywhere. Learning CPR is one of the most valuable gifts you can give yourself. Everyone should know CPR because everyone has a heart.

CPR, along with the use of an AED (automated external defibrillator), can increase the survival rate by 50% in an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. An AED is a lightweight, portable device that delivers an electric shock through the chest to the heart. AEDs are safe to use by anyone, and formal training in the use of an AED is not required, nor necessary, because the device uses audible voice prompts to guide the user through the process of using the device.

According to the American Heart Association, each year in the United States, more than 350,000 cardiac arrests occur outside of a hospital setting. Quick response by people who know CPR and begin administering CPR account for most of the out-of-hospital saves.

While EMS performance metrics are not nationally standardized, many systems have adopted benchmarks to arrive on scene within a specific time limit. Nation-wide EMS response times today are roughly 4-10 minutes on average. The time between making the call to 9-1-1 and the arrival of professional responders is a critical intervention window when someone should help.

For those trained in CPR, there is a free app available for all smartphone users that allows them to be alerted when CPR is needed nearby and shows the user where the nearest AEDs are located.

The app, PulsePoint, uses location-based technology to alert users when someone within a quarter-mile radius is suffering cardiac arrest in a public place. The PulsePoint app was integrated into Jackson County’s 9-1-1 emergency dispatch system in 2017. PulsePoint users become an integral link in the chain of patient survival because users simultaneously receive an alert as 9-1-1 operators dispatch paramedics. Ideally, users within the immediate vicinity can reach the patient and begin CPR prior to emergency responders arriving on-scene, thus increasing the chance of survival.

If you or someone you know has suffered cardiac arrest, you already understand the value of quick response. Two to three minutes after the heart stops, brain death begins, and within minutes later irreversible damage and death can occur due to blood flow loss. Out-of-the-hospital cardiac arrest does not have to equate to death in today’s digital society, and community members should never fear providing CPR as a life-saving effort.

Become a superhero — get CPR training and get the PulsePoint app to save someone’s life.

Chris Chambers is Forest Division chief at Ashland Fire & Rescue.