A notification sent to your cellphone could mean the difference between life and death for someone facing sudden cardiac arrest.
That's the premise behind PulsePoint, a mobile-phone application the Washington Township Fire Department has started using to crowdsource cardiopulmonary resuscitation for those suffering from cardiac arrest in public areas.
Those who sign up for the free app, available for Android and Apple phones, have to opt in to receive alerts from 911 centers, said Washington Township Assistant Fire Chief Bill Lynn. Alerts are sent only to people within a quarter mile of a cardiac arrest incident at a public location.
The chance of survival drops 10 percent per minute that someone is in cardiac arrest, Lynn said, and ambulances have an average response time of as much as five minutes. The goal of PulsePoint is to alert trained individuals someone suffering a cardiac arrest needs their CPR skills before first responders are able to arrive.
Washington Township launched the app for residents here the last week in July, Lynn said.
As of Nov. 31, 837 people have subscribed -- representing about 2 percent of the township's population. Although subscriptions have been at a higher number than the township anticipated, the fire department continues to push the app, Lynn said.
As of yet, no community members have administered CPR in response to the approximately 25 sudden cardiac arrest incidents that have taken place in public spaces since the township's adoption of the app, Lynn said.
Washington Township split the $18,000 cost to purchase the app with Norwich Township, Lynn said. Washington Township's $9,000 fee was reimbursed by the Dublin Foundation.
In addition to Norwich and Washington townships, Upper Arlington also uses PulsePoint, said Jay Somerville, technical services bureau director for the Dublin Police Department.
When dispatchers take a call for cardiac arrest, "time is our biggest enemy," Somerville said.
As soon as the dispatcher obtains the location of the cardiac arrest, a notification is automatically sent through PulsePoint, even while the dispatcher is gathering additional details.
Firefighters also use the app, so that they can receive alerts via their phones 30 to 45 seconds before the dispatcher is finished with the call, Somerville said.
"It really speeds up the whole process," he said.