NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Paramedics and ambulance crews can provide life-saving skills within minutes, but a new smartphone app looks to bring help to area heart attack victims even quicker.
“It can be a pretty frightening situation to see somebody you love die and feel like there’s nothing you can do to help them,” said Nick Pishnery, director of the WestCom Dispatch Center.
WestCom recently added the PulsePoint CPR-AED smartphone app to the six fire departments the center dispatches emergency services for, including North Ridgeville.
The app works this way: When a 911 dispatch call comes in concerning someone suspected of suffering a heart attack, the dispatch center activates an alert that goes out to anyone with the PulsePoint app who is within a quarter-mile of the victim.
Using a smartphone’s built-in GPS function, the app tells people how to reach the victim, and where to find the nearest AED (defibrillator) equipment.
“Response times for (emergency) squads in our region usually take from a minute or two to under five minutes,” Pishnery said.
Being able to call on someone who is trained to use a defibrillator or CPR can save a life.
“If you have a person down and not breathing or unconscious, having a trained person nearby who can put an AED on them or start CPR could mean a lot better chance of survival,” Assistant North Ridgeville Fire Chief Scott Bement said.
The urgency for such help is borne out by sobering statistics provided by Cleveland Clinic that show heart attacks remain the No. 1 killer in the U.S., with an estimated 325,000 deaths each year — or nearly 1,000 a day.
North Ridgeville is the only Lorain County community making use of the app, which also is available for free to anyone in Cleveland, Bay Village, Westlake, Rocky River and Fairview Park.
The app and its acquisition by Westcom were paid for by Cleveland Clinic, Pishnery said.
“Anyone outside the quarter-mile won’t receive the alert,” Bement said.
The app has been in service about a month in North Ridgeville and so far, the fire department has not had an emergency requiring its use.
But knowing it’s there may make the difference one day.
The PulsePoint app also is designed to work in public areas such as restaurants, stores, office buildings or outdoors.
Created in the Oakland, Calif., area, the Pulsepoint system has gradually come east, Bement said.
It is available to Apple iOS and Google Android devices through the Apple App Store or Google Play. The PulsePoint app can be accessed by clicking on a CPR figure.
In North Ridgeville, AEDs are at the Senior Center, St. Peter School, the high school, middle school, and several businesses, Bement said.
As more locations install AED units, they will be added to the WestCom database for people with access to the PulsePoint app.