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Seattle man is alive today thanks to smartphone app alerts

A Seattle, Washington man is alive today thanks to an app created by a former northern California fire chief. When Stephen DeMont collapsed in front of the University of Washington Medical Center on October 14th, a 911 call activated alerts to CPR-trained responders in close proximity to the incident, as reported by the Associated Press.

The alerts were sent out by PulsePoint, which has two functions. The location-aware app notifies nearby people who are trained in CPR and have the app installed on their phones that an incident has occurred and gives the location of the stricken person. The app also provides directions to the nearest publicly accessible Automated External Defibrillator (AED).

Related: This FDA-approved wearable defibrillator could save children’s lives

In DeMont’s case, he collapsed outside the hospital when he got off his bicycle. Medical student Zach Forcade saw him in distress and started performing chest compressions. Forcade also told a bystander to call 911. The 911 call triggered an alert that went out immediately to 41 people within a 330-yard radius. Cardiac nurse Madeline Dahl had downloaded the app to her phone the previous month, and when the alert came she ran down two flights of stairs to help Forcade and make sure he was doing what needed to be done.

PulsePoint, which works through the 911 system, was developed by former fire chief Richard Price. More than 900,000 people in the U.S. have downloaded the app. Since the program’s inception, 13,000 alerts have gone out for cardiac events and 34,000 people have been alerted to respond.

Price conceived of PulsePoint on a day when he was off duty in a restaurant and heard sirens. One of his crews from the San Ramon Valley, California fire department arrived at the same restaurant to help someone — an unconscious, unresponsive person behind a wall within 20 feet of where Price had been sitting. He realized if he or anyone else had been alerted, they could have made a difference sooner.

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