Business breakfast introduces PulsePoint, an app that could save lives


The Feb. 19 Zionsville Chamber of Commerce Business Breakfast featured Zionsville Fire Dept. EMS Chief Steve Gilliam and Dr. Stephanie Gardner with St. Vincent. Gilliam and Gardner introduced the PulsePoint mobile app to the Zionsville business community.

PulsePoint is a mobile app that alerts CPR-trained bystanders when someone within a quarter-mile of their location is in cardiac arrest. The app launched in February 2015 in the San Diego area and has expanded to more than 3,000 communities nationwide with more than 1 million users.

Gardner encouraged St. Vincent Ascension to sponsor the PulsePoint app in Boone County. She said she is unhappy about the low rate survival rate — 8 percent — for cardiac arrest patients.

“When you look at those 8 percent of people that get to walk out of the hospital, what was the difference about their event compared to the 92 percent of people who didn’t get to do that?” Gardner said. “Looking at the research, survival was more likely among those (cardiac arrest events) which were witnessed by a bystander, witnessed by EMS, who received bystander CPR or who were in a shock-able rhythm.”

Gilliam said CPR techniques have changed in recent years. EMS staff will perform CPR on-scene to restore a pulse instead of immediately transporting a patient to the hospital because CPR is more effective when not in a moving ambulance.

“Chest compressions are really what are keeping people alive until we can get their heart started again. That’s what has to happen for these people,” Gilliam said. “The concept of PulsePoint is amazing because it allows someone closer than the fire department to possibly show up on the scene and initiate the lifesaving chest compressions until we get there.”

Chest compressions can keep the brain oxygenated until EMS arrives on scene.

When someone calls 911, dispatchers send out an immediate alert to PulsePoint users who are within a quarter-mile of the patient. App users will get a ping to their phone showing them a map, the location of the patient and the user’s location. They then can rush to the scene and perform CPR until EMS staff arrive.

The reason immediate action is so important, Gardner said, is because the brain is so sensitive to lack of blood flow and lack of oxygen.

“We start to see cell damage in the brain as soon as four minutes (after a cardiac arrest), and irreversible damage as soon as seven minutes after,” she said.

Gardner said although dispatchers are trained to talk people on-scene how to begin CPR, and countless CPR classes are offered across the nation, only 33 percent of cardiac arrest victims receive bystander CPR. Many times, bystanders are afraid to begin CPR because of the fear of being held liable or uncertainty on how to perform the procedure, among other reasons.

“There was a big push to get non-medical and laypeople to do bystander CPR, and we weren’t really successful,” Gardner said. “PulsePoint has a different perspective. It tries to bring people who are CPR-trained and willing to do CPR to (the) site of that person.”

PulsePoint also notifies users of nearby AEDs and bleeding-control kits.

“It’s out there. It’s being used and it’s saving lives,” Gardner said.

PulsePoint is free for Apple and Android users. For more, visit

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