When the heart stops, oxygen-rich blood doesn’t get circulated to the brain and body. That’s called sudden cardiac arrest.
Without intervention, death occurs within minutes.
There were 599 calls to Ada County Dispatch for cardiac arrest between October of 2016 and 2017, data show.
It’s unclear how many people survived those incidents — but only about 10 percent of those who experience cardiac arrest outside a hospital survive, according to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation.
Those bleak odds can be substantially improved, health and emergency officials say. Bystanders who do hands-only CPR — deep chest compressions — on cardiac arrest victims until first responders arrive can save many lives.
That’s why Boise, Ada County and other local fire and emergency medical service agencies within the county have been promoting a new phone app called PulsePoint, which can be set to send an alert to you if you’re within a quarter mile of someone who has collapsed from cardiac arrest.
“This is if you’re at Home Depot, and three aisles down somebody has a cardiac emergency ... you could run down [three] aisles and save someone’s life,” Boise Fire Chief Dennis Doan told members of Leadership Boise last week, after a short training on how to do deep-chest compressions.
Studies have showed that hands-only CPR has better outcomes in cases of bystander-initiated CPR than cases where compressions were alternated with ventilation (mouth-to-mouth resuscitation). Researchers believe that’s due in part to bystander’s reluctance to do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, the low quality of the ventilation that’s done and the negative effect of too-long interruptions in chest compressions.
The added benefit of the PulsePoint app, Doan said, is that it also provides a quick way to find out what emergencies are going on around the city. The app lists active and recent incidents with location, time and type (medical emergency, public service, fire alarm, traffic collision, lift assist, vegetation fire, etc.).
“If you’re curious of what’s going on — auto accidents around town — this will tell you what’s going on,” Doan said.
The Ada County City Emergency Services System, which includes Boise, Meridian, Kuna, and Star fire departments, is the first in Idaho to make PulsePoint available to the public through a free phone app. They’ve been promoting the app through public service announcements on the radio and TV since April.
So far about 4,000 people in Ada County have downloaded the app. Local officials are hoping to increase that number to 25,000, said Char Jackson, a spokeswoman for the Boise Fire Department.
Download the PulsePoint app by visiting Play Store (Android) or App Store (iPhone). For step-by-step help downloading PulsePoint, click here. For specific questions regarding PulsePoint, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to get certified in CPR?
Here are some places that offer training:
▪ Emergency Academy
6055 Corporal Lane
Boise, Idaho 83704
▪ Idaho Center on Emergency Medical Training
2107 Industrial Rd.
Nampa, Idaho 83687
▪ American Red Cross
▪ College of Western Idaho
Program Director: Dexter Hunt
2707 Caldwell Blvd.
Nampa, Idaho 83651
▪ Idaho State University
Program Director: Rod Hackwith
Signs of cardiac arrest
▪ Sudden collapse, unresponsiveness
▪ No pulse
▪ No breathing
▪ Loss of consciousness