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ROGERS -- A new smartphone application that asks volunteers to help when someone nearby has a cardiac arrest could make the difference between life and death for some residents, said Tom Jenkins, Rogers fire chief.

"Over the course of the year, I think we will save a few more lives," Jenkins said Friday.

At A Glance

Bystander CPR

Effective bystander CPR provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival. In Rogers, the survival rate was 42 percent last year, compared to about 7 percent in 2010.

Source: Staff Report

At A Glance

App Coverage

The PulsePoint Response app will cover Rogers and Little Flock and part of Benton County along Arkansas 12 and Arkansas 94 East. The app also acts as a registry for defibrillators and notifies volunteers where public defibrillators are located. For volunteers who register, the app also will relocate when they travel to other jurisdictions that use it. So, a Rogers traveler can be notified of a cardiac arrest while they are visiting Las Vegas, for example.

Source: Rogers Fire Chief Tom Jenkins, PulsePoint

At A Glance

Survival Rate

Survival rates nationwide for sudden cardiac arrests are less than 8 percent. Only about a third of victims receive bystander CPR. Without oxygen-rich blood, permanent brain damage or death can occur in less than 8 minutes.

Source: PulsePoint

On Tuesday, city aldermen approved spending about $45,000 to participate in an app by PulsePoint, a nonprofit organization that aims to provide a nationwide system that matches volunteers to people who need cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. The app will go live in Rogers within three months, Jenkins said.

Starting CPR immediately increases the chance of survival among cardiac arrest patients, said Richard Price, PulsePoint president and a former fire chief.

"We know bystanders can intervene and make a difference in people's lives before firefighters arrive," Price said.

During a heart attack, brain damage can start in about five minutes, and the survival rate drops to almost zero in 10 minutes, Price said. In Rogers, it takes an average of about 6 1/2 minutes for dispatchers to get the 911 call, notify firefighters, and for firefighters to suit up and drive to the location where a heart attack is happening, Jenkins said.

The cardiac arrest survival rate in Rogers was about 42 percent last year, he said.

Implementing the app is the second step to getting residents to participate in emergency care, Jenkins said. The Fire Department has pushed for residents to learn CPR for about three years, he said.

The strategy has worked, Jenkins said. The Rogers Fire Department has trained about 15,000 residents in CPR, and bystander participation is up.

The Fire Department had about 100 bystanders help during emergencies last year when just two years ago that number was in the single digits, Jenkins said.

"Our community here in Rogers has really stepped up to learn CPR," he said.

The PulsePoint Respond app is new, but participation is growing nationwide, Price said. The 3-year-old app is used in about 600 cities and communities nationwide and in 18 states. Another 200 cities are in the process of adding the app, he said.

Rogers will be the first to try the app in Arkansas, Price said. Jenkins said other cities may follow suit once they see how well the app works.

Much of the $45,000 goes for one-time costs for integration software that taps into information at the 911 center, Price said. The cost is also for five years of unlimited use, and covers some community outreach efforts, he said.

The app does not work in private homes -- only in public places -- to protect privacy rights, Price said. Even those who volunteer for the app are kept anonymous, he said.

Jenkins said the state's "Good Samaritan" law protects volunteers who come to help others during an emergency, but Don Judges, the E.J. Ball law professor at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, said it's too soon to tell how well the law will protect volunteers using the app.

A person who is not in the health care profession, but responds during an emergency, "shall not be held liable in civil damages in any action in this state for any act or omission resulting from the rendering of emergency assistance or services unless the act or omission was not in good faith and was the result of gross negligence or willful misconduct," according to Arkansas Code 17-95-101.

An attorney general's opinion is needed, Judges said.

The law, which was strengthened in 2007, has not been ruled on in court, and the app adds a new wrinkle because people will be responding to an invitation from local government, Judges said.

"The statute was not written with that scenario in mind," he said.

Even so, the law may hold up, said Robert Steinbuch, professor of law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. The idea is a good one, he said.

"We have people in society that can help out, and so, let's try to take advantage of that," Steinbuch said. "(The app) strikes me, at first blush, as a good idea."

Aldermen said they believe the app will make a difference in Rogers. Alderman Bob Goodwin said he has no concerns about using the app.

"I think it's a need that's here," Goodwin said Friday. "I think anything we do to improve our protection is a good thing."

NW News on 06/30/2014

Print Headline: An App To Save Lives

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