116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — The Johnson County Ambulance Service has launched a 911-connected app that can request the assistance nearby CPR-trained individuals during medical emergencies.
With its Monday launch, the county’s ambulance service has become the second government body in Iowa to adopt PulsePoint Respond.
The app was adopted in partnership with the Rotary-Kerber HeartSafe Community Campaign, a local initiative focused on efforts to improve survival rates for individuals in sudden cardiac arrest.
911 dispatchers can use to app to summon aid for patients before firefighters or EMTs arrive. It only summons help if the patient is in a public place, like a store.
This week’s launch also introduced the companion app called PulsePoint AED, which has a map of publicly available AEDs, or automated external defibrillator. The devices, found in many public buildings, deliver an electric shock to patients to restore normal heart rhythm.
In cardiac medical emergencies where every minute counts, the goal is to provide help to patients as soon as possible, said Fiona Johnson, director of the Johnson County Ambulance Service.
“For every minute of cardiac arrest, the chance of survival decreases by 10 percent,” Johnson said.
Currently, the survival rate for sudden cardiac arrest in Johnson County is 17 percent, according to the Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival. That’s higher than the nation’s average of 7 percent, but Johnson said the county ambulance service seek to improve that survival rate.
With a high number of medically trained professionals living in the county, PulsePoint Response should prosper in the community and “ultimately save lives,” Johnson said.
That may be particularly true for smaller communities in the county, where it takes an ambulance 10 minutes to arrive, she said.
"This will empower local citizens to help other citizens who need CPR,“ Johnson said.
The app is free to use. About 150 individuals had downloaded the app as of Tuesday afternoon, Johnson said.
The Rotary-Kerber HeartSafe Community Campaign paid the $10,000 needed to launch the app. Going forward, Johnson County will cover the $10,500 annual subscription fee, Johnson said.
How it works
PulsePoint Response is tied directly to the county’s emergency dispatch system.
Anyone who has been trained in CPR can register within the PulsePoint Respond app, even if they may not be up-to-date on certifications. When they receive a 911 call that indicates a sudden cardiac event in a public location, dispatchers can notify app users at the same time they send an ambulance to that medical emergency.
Registered users within a quarter mile of the medical emergency receive a loud alert on their phone. The app directs that individual to the patient and the nearest location of an AED.
For example, if someone collapses in Walmart, Johnson County users who are in Walmart will be notified. Users would not be notified if the cardiac arrest is happening in a private residence, Johnson said.
The PulsePoint Respond also allows users to be informed about other emergencies such as fires or car accidents. This will enable users to know whether emergency services have been notified of an event in their neighborhood and help them avoid areas where the emergency is taking place, Johnson said.
The Rotary-Kerber HeartSafe Community Campaign also is working to increase the number of publicly available AEDs throughout the county, Johnson said.
Iowa City will receive five AEDs, North Liberty and Coralville will both receive three and the smaller communities in Johnson County will each receive one.
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