Madison County introduces life-saving app that alerts bystanders to nearby emergencies

MADISON COUNTY, Ala. --  A joint agency endeavor launched a free smartphone app called PulsePoint for all of Madison County. The app alerts citizens trained in hands-only CPR when someone in a nearby public place suffers sudden cardiac arrest. The program is sponsored by the 911 Center of Huntsville-Madison County.

Madison County is the first community in Alabama, to utilize the PulsePoint Respond app, but it joins more than 35 other states already using the life-saving technology.

PulsePoint's goal is to put the right people in the right place to help save lives. HEMSI CEO Jon Howell said it's the bystander component that will really make a difference. "PulsePoint is an app for smartphones that can be downloaded by anybody in the community, and its primary mission is to help us raise awareness for the need for early CPR for victims of sudden cardiac arrest."

Howell said unless someone gets CPR within about eight minutes or less, the chances of them surviving a sudden cardiac arrest are about zero.

"Getting more bystander CPR is crucial to improving our out of hospital survival rate for these victims of sudden cardiac arrest in the community," he explained.

The 911 center sends an alert through the app at the same time they dispatch first responders to the scene, from HEMSI, Huntsville and Madison Fire Departments, and Madison County Volunteer Fire Departments. 911 Center Director Chris Tucker said, "It helps bring together all of our partners, all of our agency partners, EMS, and fire. It helps the citizens get involved with our agencies."

With this technology now available, Tucker encourages the public to get involved, because they will make a difference. "The message that I would like to get out to the community is to learn CPR, download the app, and save lives," said Tucker.

Megan Carter is glad to have the chance to possibly save a life with the PulsePoint app. She said it is extremely user-friendly.

"It's so easy to use, and it's such a great idea. Basically, all you have to do is download it within just a few seconds, it doesn't take long, you don't have to sign up," she explained.

The smartphone app is free and shows users on a map recent and current emergency situations close by.

"You can actually see where you are, and you can see the locations of all of the active emergencies around you It's really easy to see," said Carter.

It gives you the option to sign up for alerts from PulsePoint that Carter said are easily heard, "It's not a super obnoxious noise, but it's also something that you're going to be able to hear and notice."

You do not have to be CPR certified to use the app, as explained by Tucker, "They highly encourage that someone be certified, but if they know CPR, that's better than nothing at all."

Tucker said to users who aren't as familiar, there are CPR instructions within the app, "And not only that, the app also provides instructions on how to use defibrillators."

Which is a good thing because PulsePoint can also tell you where AED's are in your area. "There's a little button that you just click and it'll show you the closest AED that's registered," explained Howell.

PulsePoint is available for Androids and iPhones.