Pilot Program Pairs Off Duty Fire Fighters with Life Saving Technology
International Association of Fire Fighters Locals 29, 876, and 3701 have partnered with the PulsePoint Foundation, Spokane Fire Department, Spokane Valley Fire Department and automated external defibrillator (AED) manufacturer Philips to launch a pilot program utilizing 100 off-duty professional firefighters in response to cardiac arrest calls in public and private settings. The PulsePoint Verified First Responder program was launched September 6, 2017, in Spokane County, WA and will run through December 2018. It is the third of four pilot sites in the United States.
Each year, more than 350,000 Americans have an out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) where the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating; nearly 90 percent are fatal. If treated early with CPR and in some cases defibrillation, the chances of survival can double or triple.
In February 2014, PulsePoint was launched in the Spokane region to improve cardiac arrest survival rates by notifying CPR-trained citizen volunteers – using a smartphone app — when someone is experiencing a cardiac emergency in a nearby public location. The PulsePoint app is now in more than 2500 communities in 35 states with more than 1 million users.
“Since we launched PulsePoint here locally, we’ve grown to more than 22,000 users and hundreds of CPR-needed activations with citizen responders,” explained Bryan Collins, Spokane Valley Fire Department Chief. But the app sends citizen responders to public locations only. “With Verified First Responder, we now have the opportunity to send off-duty professional firefighters into a home or private location in response to a cardiac emergency, which will dramatically broaden our impact to save lives.”
The Verified Responder Pilot Program utilizes the PulsePoint app, and Philips provides an AED to every participating firefighter. It brings the technology so that if they respond, they can employ the same technology that is used by emergency medical responders and physicians to restart a heart that has stopped beating. Participating professional firefighters are certified emergency medical technicians (EMTs) or paramedics who receive background checks as part of employment.
The effort will gather important data from the Spokane area pilot program and combine it with existing technology and clinical insights to inform future lifesaving strategies and products.