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PulsePoint app, used in Las Vegas Valley, can be lifesaver

The casino security guard’s phone notified him about the emergency: A man went into cardiac arrest.

Kyle Ramberg received a PulsePoint Respond app alert that the man needed CPR at a downtown Las Vegas resort before the call came in through the casino’s dispatch.

“Every second counts in an emergency,” Ramberg said last week of the crisis from three or four years ago.

The app pinpointed the man’s location — across the casino — and the nearest automated external defibrillator. He and four other guards ran to the man.

Ramberg, a CPR instructor, performed five sets of chest compressions and breaths and delivered two AED shocks on the man. Paramedics arrived and took over revival efforts, and the man began breathing. As they loaded him into an ambulance he “crashed” again, but the man’s wife later told Ramberg that the man survived, he said.

The free, location-based PulsePoint smartphone app alerts people who’ve opted into CPR notifications when someone is in cardiac arrest in a nearby public place, with the hope they may provide first aid before paramedics arrive.

The app is integrated with local fire departments’ dispatch systems and sends out real-time notifications when crews are dispatched on emergency calls. When someone places a 911 call about a person in cardiac arrest, PulsePoint will send a notification to opted-in users with locations for the victim and the nearest AED.

It also provides instructions on how to perform CPR and how to use a defibrillator.

After the Henderson Fire Department began using PulsePoint this month, each of the valley’s four fire departments now use it.

Crews do their best to make it to a scene as soon as possible, but any help they can get increases that person’s chances of surviving, Henderson Fire Chief Shawn White said.

“If you’re willing to help, you could really buy us some time,” White said.

Only about 10 percent of those who go into cardiac arrest outside a hospital survive, according to American Heart Association statistics. White said that early chest compressions and AED use can increase those chances, but every minute without them drops survival rates significantly.

“(The app) kinda creates this army of helpers out there,” White said.

People can also follow local fire departments within the app and receive notifications for other emergency calls they are working, such as crashes, fires and rescues.

About 23,000 people follow the valley’s four agencies on the app, and 11,000 of them people have CPR alerts enabled, said Shannon Smith, PulsePoint’s vice president of communications.

The nonprofit doesn’t keep track of the number of lives its app saves because of privacy laws, Smith said. Yet, she said, she hears anecdotes of lives being saved through the app on a nearly weekly basis. The app can provide an incentive for people to become CPR certified, she said.

“Cardiac arrests can happen at any time to any person at any age,” Smith said.

The Las Vegas Fire Department was the first in the valley to utilize the technology with the arrival of Chief William McDonald in 2013, spokesman Tim Szymanski said. California fire departments had been using it, and McDonald wanted to bring the app to Las Vegas, Szymanski said.

For those curious about lights and sirens in their neighborhood, users can view the calls the departments are currently working, their location and which crews are out there, Szymanski said.

Additionally, it has an online radio function for people to listen to fire department radio communications.

“It’s a pretty useful tool,” Szymanski said.

The Henderson Fire Department tried enlisting the app’s services in the middle of the decade but ran into roadblocks while trying to change its computer-aided dispatch system, White said. The department revisited the idea within the last six months, he said.

In the spring, Henderson firefighters along with the city of Henderson plan to host CPR and “stop the bleed” training classes for the public, White said.

The oft-repeated “see something, say something” mantra is good to remember, White said, but “do something” is important, too.

“If we can engage more people with some basic first aid training, our chances of saving people from critical incidents increases dramatically,” White said.

Clark County Deputy Chief Jeff Buchanan praised the app for its ability to include the public in the Las Vegas Valley’s emergency response efforts. The Clark County department adopted the app in the past few years, Buchanan said. He suggested that anybody with CPR training and a desire to put it to use to download the app.

“It kinda helps the community gel together,” Buchanan said.

Buchanan said somebody under cardiac arrest would likely be grateful for the quick help.

“The Clark County Fire Department would be, too,” he said.

Contact Mike Shoro at mshoro@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5290. Follow @mike_shoro on Twitter.

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