PulsePoint provides resources to help civilians assist people suffering emergencies.
Sarasota County first responders are confident their partnership with a smartphone application will assist heart attack victims and ultimately save lives.
PulsePoint, a free app designed to alert CPR-trained bystanders toward people having heart attacks, is now available in Sarasota County. By quickly alerting civilians to these emergency situations, first responders say the app will boost survival rates.
"This is going to enhance and save lives. I can't stress this enough," said Sarasota County Fire Chief Michael Renier.
The app is connected to 911 and activated by a public safety communications center, simultaneously with the dispatch of fire and EMS personnel. Bystanders with the app receive an alert with the location of the emergency to provide CPR as first responders head to the scene.
Alerts are only sent if the patient is in a public place and a bystander is within a quarter of a mile.
PulsePoint also provides locations of public access automated external defibrillators, also known as AEDs, which are devices that check a heart's rhythm and potentially send an electric shock to restore its normal rhythm.
An estimated 350,000 people die from out-of-hospital cardiac incidents in the U.S. each year and survival rates are less than 12%, said Sarasota County EMS Chief Carson Sanders. He said bystanders perform CPR in less than half of these incidents.
Once a heart attack begins, life expectancy decreases by 10% for every minute without aid, Sanders said. Sarasota County's emergency response time is about five minutes, which he said underscores the importance of civilian support.
"You see the need for more trained bystanders and quicker intervention as the only ways to improve these outcome numbers," Sanders said.
Two years ago Sarasota County began working with hospitals and public safety communication centers to enhance its survival rates, which included partnering with PulsePoint. The rate of bystander assistance in cardiac incidents has increased from 13% to 40% during that time and the survival rate in 2017 was up to 13.7%.
According to a statement from PulsePoint, 57% of U.S. adults say they've undergone CPR training. Recent guidelines from the AMA have shown compression-only CPR, which doesn't require bystanders to breathe into another person's mouth, can increase bystander participation rates even more and be just as effective.
PulsePoint is available in more than 2,800 jurisdictions in the United States, including all towns and cities in Sarasota and Manatee counties.