The Santa Barbara City Fire Department has officially adopted the PulsePoint response mobile application.
The free-to-download app empowers residents to provide life-saving assistance to victims of sudden cardiac arrest. Upon download of the app, users are asked whether they are trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and willing to assist in an emergency. If so, residents can be notified if someone nearby is having a SCA and may require CPR.
“This alert takes place as firefighters and paramedics are dispatched to the emergency,” James Heidlebaugh, city fire spokesman, said in a news release.
The app also directs potential rescuers to the exact location of the closest automatic external defibrillator – though this feature has yet to be fully integrated within the city, Chief Eric Nickel told the Santa Barbara City Council on Tuesday afternoon.
During Tuesday’s council meeting, the city adopted a proclamation declaring October as Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month.
“If you download the app and you’re in a public location and someone in suffering from cardiac arrest and you’re within one-eighth to one-quarter of a mile, you will get an alert on your phone,” Chief Nickel told the council.
While the app may be used by off-duty first responders, it could also be used for tourists or visitors to the area.
“It might not even be a Santa Barbara citizen, it could be a visitor or community member that can step in and start CPR,” Chief Nickel said. “For every minute that CPR is withheld, the person’s chance of survival decreases by 10 percent. Our typical response time for fire and EMS and law enforcement to these types of calls is six to eight minutes, so do the math.
“If nobody gets involved, we’re already working against the odds of this person’s chance of survival,” he said. “We’re trying to engage the community, get them to step forward.”
In 2018, the city Fire Department responded to more than 10,300 incidents that included more than 400 cardiac arrest events, Mr. Heidlebaugh said.
The city currently boasts a 50 percent cardiac arrest save rate, one of the highest in the country. The new app was made possible due to the support of the Santa Barbara Firefighters Alliance, which purchased the app for the department.
Susan Petrovich, president of the alliance, attended Tuesday’s council meeting and explained that the group raises funds for the county and city fire departments for equipment that is not accounted for in the departmental budgets.
“The equipment makes our firefighters more efficient and keeps them safe, thereby keeping all of us safe,” Ms. Petrovich said.
The alliance has provided funding for counseling services, as well as support vehicles for fire search-and-rescue dogs and night-vision goggles, among other items.
While the app is designed to alert residents of CPR needs, subscribers can also choose to be notified of significant events. The notifications can provide an early warning to local threats such as wildland fires, flooding and utility emergencies.
The app is free to download on mobile devices. Residents will be able to follow the city fire department in the near future following software updates, Mr. Heidlebaugh said.
For more information on the app, visit www.pulsepoint.org.