A city in Northern California is crowdsourcing first responders with an iPhone app.
Called Fire Department, the app is the aimed at the 20,000 people in San Ramon trained in CPR.
Developed by the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District for the city about 34 miles east of San Francisco, the free app sends citizens 911 alerts, including requests for CPR.
If the cardiac emergency is in a public place, the application uses GPS technology to alert citizens about urgent CPR requests. The app also tells citizen rescuers to the exact location of the closest public access Automated External Defibrillator (AED).
“It’s volunteerism in an entirely new way,” said San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District Fire Chief Richard Price.”It’s volunteering 2.0.”
Here’s how it works: locals download the free app and enable the CPR alert. In the event of a cardiac emergency, once 911 has been called and paramedics dispatched, the app also alerts people who may be nearby to intervene.
Keeping in mind the potential legal implications of citizen intervention, the app reminds people who sign up to “respond in a safe, responsible and respectful manner.”
Using the phone’s GPS, a map tells the user where the victim is and the location of the nearest automated external defibrillator (AED). The user would then go to the person and help until the fire department arrives.
“This could be the most meaningful application ever written,” said Price. “We have something that we really think is going to change the world.”
And to spread the idea further than San Ramon – they hope to take the app national and beyond — they have partnered with software company Workday to apply the open source code of the iPhone application to other fire departments’ dispatch systems at no cost.
If you don’t know CPR, the app can still help you find out what’s going on around you. One quick tap to the app the next time you see an ambulance or fire truck go by and you have the incident location and can plan an alternate route. The app also provides a log of recent incidents and a photo gallery of significant events.
The app pairs two major trends – citizen engagement and emergency help. Cities around the US and the UK have reportedly saved millions by allowing residents to voice complaints and troubleshoot road and service problems using iPhone apps.
A high school basketball coach used an iPhone app called PhoneAid to perform CPR on a 17-year-old who collapsed on the court. Eric Cooper Sr. downloaded the $1.99 app just the night before, as kind of a refresher course.
Jones’ heart had stopped beating. Cooper used the iPhone app, which gives real-time instructions on how to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation, to jump start his heart.
This isn’t the first time an app is credited with saving a life – a filmmaker trapped in rubble during Haiti’s devastating quake used an app called Pocket First Aid and CPR to make a bandage and stem bleeding. We counted 81 CPR apps currently in the iTunes store, from CPR for babies or pets to versions in Italian and Spanish.