What if there was a way to increase the cardiac arrest victims’ chances of receiving that immediate help? That’s the idea researchers in Sweden had when they developed a mobile phone app to contact CPR-trained volunteers who happened to be in the area near cardiac arrest victims. This allowed these people to begin CPR on the victim even before emergency responders arrived.
Humbly referred to by its developers as a “mobile-phone positioning system,” the phone app uses a cell phone’s GPS function to locate bystanders who are trained in CPR who happen to be near the victim, then contact them about the emergency. The volunteers have the choice to download the app after receiving CPR training if they want to participate in the program.
Dr. Leif Svensson, a cardiologist at the Center for Resuscitation Science at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, developed the idea 10 years ago during his morning commute. A woman outside the very bus he was riding on suffered a cardiac arrest, but no one noticed including the doctor himself. Upon his arrival to work in the emergency room, he saw this same woman, dead on arrival. He reasoned if there had been some way for him to have known her condition earlier, he could have performed CPR on the spot, increasing the woman’s chance of survival.
He expressed his idea to several of his colleagues which resulted in the idea of the phone app which could locate a victim’s “closest lifesaver.” Whenever an emergency would be reported to responders, any CPR-trained volunteers who were within about a third of a mile of the victim would receive a text message and a phone call to alert them to the emergency, including the victim’s location.
In tests, the system resulted in an impressive 30% increase in cardiac arrest victims being provided with life-saving assistance while waiting for ambulances to arrive. When in use, someone nearby was able to give the victim CPR before medical responders arrived 62% of the time. When the mobile system was not activated, CPR was only administered 48% of the time before EMS arrived.
(Photo courtesy of Paul Lewis)