Aurora ambulance group joins app to speed up response to cardiac arrest patients


AURORA | The city’s primary ambulance provider has partnered with a non-profit organization focused on getting local residents to certain medical calls faster than area paramedics by way of a smartphone app.

Falck Rocky Mountain, Aurora’s ambulance service provider since 2015, is teaming up with non-profit group PulsePoint to identify residents who can administer CPR or apply a defibrillator to a non-responsive person in their immediate area.

The idea is to allow people to more quickly respond to situations where seconds can mean the difference between life or death. The program is connected to the city’s emergency dispatch mainframe, which then relays instances of cardiac arrest to the app and pings users in the area, alerting them to proceed to the patient in need of care if they are able.

“Early/bystander CPR is proven to exponentially save lives in sudden cardiac arrest,” Aurora Deputy City Manager Jason Batchelor wrote in city documents presented to a council policy committee Thursday.

The app is also able to show users where the nearest defibrillator is located.

Typical medical response via Falck ambulances and Aurora Fire Rescue trucks is also sent, but the goal is to get a patient care faster than the several minutes it takes first responders to navigate traffic and other hurdles. More than 90% of Falck calls arrive to emergency situations within eight minutes and non-emergency calls within 11 minutes, per industry standards, according to David Patterson, chief executive officer of Falck Rocky Mountain.

Anyone with a desire to help can sign up to receive notifications of critical incidents in public places — not just those with certified CPR credentials.

Patterson said the American Heart Association now encourages bystanders to perform “hands-only” CPR, which just involves chest compressions and skips mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

“It is putting one hand over the other and administering chest compressions in the middle of the sternum at a rate to the beat of ‘Staying Alive,’ … depressing on an adult 1-and-a-half to 2 inches,” he said. “I would still encourage that education of a bystander CPR class, but don’t let that expired CPR card prevent you from attempting to help.”

Even if it’s not performed perfectly, there’s little downside to providing a person with no pulse and no heartbeat CPR, Patterson said. Good samaritan laws also shield providers from future legal action.

“What I try to tell folks who are reluctant to try to do CPR — chest compressions — because they’re afraid of doing something wrong … the patient is dead, and you’re not going to make it worse,” Patterson said. “Well-intentioned and not technically perfect CPR … it’s certainly better than nothing.”

Merely watching a YouTube video can give users the gist of the skills they’ll need to save a life, according to the PulsePoint website.

“CPR today is very easy to perform and can be learned quickly in informal settings such as community street fairs, group training sessions, take-home DVD-based courses, or even by watching brief online videos,” according to the group’s “FAQ” page. “These types of training environments do not provide certificates of other forms of skill documentation. Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) actually require no training to use. Therefore, there is no reason or even ability to verify that someone volunteering to help others with CPR or an AED has been formally trained.”

The app also validates “verified responders” and “verified responder pros,” allowing people with legitimate medical training to respond to private homes as well.

Some 70% of cardiac arrest events occur in private residences, the non-profit estimates.

The app claims some 2.3 million overall users, adding about 2,000 more a day. In Aurora, nearly 5,000 people have signed up to use the program since Falck rolled it out in September.

An array of other emergency response groups in the state use the app, including South Metro Fire, Arvada Fire and Castle Rock Fire.

Currently, Falck is covering all of the initial costs to stand up the program in the city, Patterson said.

The city opted to extend Falck’s original five-year contract for another two years in September. Originally based in Denmark, the emergency medical group responds to about 42,000 911 calls per year and transports about 30,000 patients to area hospitals, according to stats provided by Patterson.

The council panel took no formal action on the information presented Thursday.

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Cathy Canzanora
Cathy Canzanora
11 months ago

Excellent idea!