Embracing innovation and collaboration, the Kansas City Fire Department is expected to launch technology this month that is designed to notify residents trained in CPR when a person in their vicinity experiences sudden cardiac arrest and is awaiting first responders.
Sudden cardiac arrest is responsible for about 350,000 deaths a year, according to the American Heart Association. Bystander CPR can nearly double a person’s chance of survival, yet only 46 percent of victims received bystander CPR in 2016.
“One of the best things for survivability of a cardiac arrest is getting CPR started early,” said Thomas Collins, deputy chief of the medical bureau at the Kansas City fire department. “What we’re trying to do is get bystanders involved. The longer someone goes into cardiac arrest without CPR, heart muscle dies. And once heart muscle dies, it’s dead forever and cannot be restored.”
This life-saving technology is being implemented via the Pleasanton, California-based PulsePoint, a smartphone application designed for those trained in CPR to download for free. Once setup on a user’s phone, GPS technology will alert the person when emergency medical responders are dispatched within a certain radius of his or her location.
“If you think about it, if somebody has a heart attack at a gas station and, for instance, I’m at the grocery store right next door, I may never know,” Collins said. “But, with PulsePoint, if I’m within a certain radius, I can now respond to the cardiac arrest and start CPR if needed.”
The application is already used in more than 2,500 cities across the country and was recently implemented in Johnson County, Kansas, and Kansas City, Kansas.
To further support the metro area, Collins said the city of Kansas City, Missouri worked closely with their Kansas neighbors to implement the technology in both regions.
“The more active users on the app, the better chance it will save a life,” Collins said. “There are plenty of people who either live in Kansas City, Kansas, and work downtown, and plenty of people who live in Kansas City, Missouri, but work in Johnson County.”
The PulsePoint project isn’t the first time that the city has partnered with entrepreneurs and startups to improve city operations, Collins added.
“This is just one step in the city trying to make itself better,” Collins said. “Overall, I think adopting technology makes us a better community and a better region. It means that we’re taking care of ourselves and helping take care of our neighbor. It will help us come together during a time of crisis.”
The Kansas City Fire Department is playing host to a public kickoff event Aug. 23 at Union Station, featuring public officials who have used PulsePoint. The conversation is expected to include Kansas City, Missouri, Fire Chief Paul Berardi, Kansas City, Kansas, Fire Chief Paul Jones, Union Station President George Guastello and others.
Collins hopes that the publicity of the event and the launch of the technology will encourage people to get involved, learn CPR and save a life.
“There’s nothing better than to say, ‘I changed somebody’s life today,’” Collins said. “To know that you truly affected somebody’s life and well being is a really good feeling.”