Enabling citizen superheroes: Phone app brings help during medical emergencies

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PARMA, Ohio-- Several Northeast Ohio communities have begun using a cell phone app that works to connect help to those suffering from a medical emergency, like cardiac arrest.

In an emergency, seconds can mean life or death, and made the difference following a deadly crash on Snow Road in Parma on Monday. A nurse, who was driving by, stopped and performed CPR to revive an unconscious child.

“Time is of the essence. Time is muscle, time is brain tissue. The quicker we can apply CPR to someone who needs it, we have all those crucial elements to save someone's life,” said T.J. Martin, with the Parma Fire Department.

Parma and Cleveland are among the cities that have begun using the PulsePoint Respond app, through a program sponsored by University Hospitals.

If dispatchers determine CPR is needed, the app is activated and alerts nearby users to the location of the emergency.

“It lets the public respond to that location simultaneously, before fire trucks can even get out the door,” Martin said.

The app is only activated if the emergency happens in a public space, not a residential address. It guides users through CPR, with a tone to regulate chest compressions. It also shows the location of the nearest Automated External Defibrillator or AED.

“It'll teach you how to do CPR, and CPR has become a simple process of merely chest compressions,” Martin said. “It will drastically improve the survivability of a cardiac emergency and save thousands of lives.”

Users can register the location of an AED through a separate app called PulsePoint AED. It is then verified by local authorities.

A list of local cities currently using PulsePoint is available here