Last year, Emergency Communications of Southern Oregon (ECSO), the 9-1-1 dispatch center serving Jackson County, received more than 100,000 9-1-1 calls. Of these calls, more than a quarter (25 percent) were emergency medical service (EMS)-related; hundreds of which were specifically for heart-related symptoms and cardiac arrests.

Cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the United States. The American Heart Association estimates that effective bystander-initiated cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillator (AED) use provided immediately after cardiac arrest can double or triple a person’s chance of survival. “When someone suffers a sudden cardiac arrest, the heart stops beating without any warning, so time is critical,” according to local physician Dr. Brian Gross.

The PulsePoint app and technology improves a person’s chance of surviving sudden cardiac arrest. PulsePoint has been integrated into Jackson County’s 9-1-1 emergency system. PulsePoint can immediately alert CPR-trained bystanders when a cardiac arrest is happening in a public place if they are nearby and indicated a willingness to respond and help if alerted when signing up for the app. Examples of public places include grocery and department stores, theaters, restaurants, libraries and other civic settings, and gyms or workout facilities.

“The PulsePoint app is like an Amber Alert for sudden cardiac arrest victims,” said Margie Moulin, director of ECSO. “It uses location-based technology to alert citizens to a sudden cardiac arrest in their immediate vicinity.” The app also notifies users of the closest available AED.

When a cardiac arrest requiring an AED or CPR is reported to 9-1-1, citizen users of the PulsePoint app and trained EMS professionals simultaneously receive a notification of the emergency, thereby increasing a person’s chance of survival by directly alerting people who are CPR-trained and who are in the vicinity (maybe in a business next door). PulsePoint users can begin CPR until EMS response arrives on-scene, thus decreasing response time and increasing survivability.

The app gives you the option of following more than one emergency response agency if you live in and/or work in separate locations frequently. PulsePoint has other unique features allowing you to see other types of responses from various agencies including the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). For the purposes of combating cardiac arrest survivor rates, the app only alerts users when they are within a quarter of a mile from the patient.

Bringing PulsePoint to the citizens of Jackson County has been a community-wide effort. Project partners include Applegate Fire, Asante, Ashland Fire & Rescue, ECSO, Evans Valley Fire, Fire District 3, Fire District 4, Fire District 5, Greensprings Fire, Jackson County Health & Human Services, Jacksonville Fire, Medford Airport Fire, Medford Fire-Rescue, Mercy Flights, Prospect Fire, Providence Medford Medical Center, Rogue River Fire, Brian Gross, MD, and Paul Rostykus, MD.

Jackson County joins seven other Oregon counties that have launched PulsePoint in their communities, including Clackamas, Deschutes, Lincoln, Marion, Multnomah, Polk and Washington counties.

Ashland Fire & Rescue is introducing the app in all future CPR Certification Classes held monthly throughout the year. The public can view the training calendar by visiting the website: Ashland.or.us/cpr. Course certification is offered through the American Heart Association.

Everyone should know CPR because everyone has a heart.

—Terri Eubanks is Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program coordinator for Ashland Fire & Rescue. The Alarm Box, a column with local public safety information written by Ashland Fire & Rescue personnel, appears triweekly in the Tidings.