MFD chief implements emergency response 'PulsePoint' app

Madison Fire Department Chief Steve Davis announced Friday on his blog a plan to introduce a new emergency response phone application in the Madison area, aimed at engaging bystanders in CPR response.

PulsePoint is designed to “improve cardiac arrest survival rates through improved bystander performance and active citizenship,” according to the application’s website.

“If we are able to engage the CPR-trained [not certified] citizens … we will effectively have the potential to increase the rates of survival from sudden cardiac arrest within our city,” Davis wrote in his post.

According to Davis, PulsePoint works as an anonymous user system, and when an alert is sent out to professional paramedics, all citizen users within a quarter mile of the incident’s location will be notified of the cardiac arrest situation simultaneously.

The program is only designed for cardiac arrest situations and will not notify the public of potentially dangerous police situations.

If the user chooses to respond, the application will provide the user with a GPS map to the emergency’s location, Davis wrote, and anyone can sign up to use the app.

“There will be a lot of people trying to help,” Bryan Coats, a Town of Madison EMT, said. “[But] they may get in the way of [emergency response vehicles].”

Alex Caffentzis, MATC student and EMT, echoed Coats’ concerns, citing that PulsePoint does not require citizens registering to use the app to submit their CPR certification. However, he acknowledged non-professionals were preferential to no one in a life or death scenario.

“In a cardiac arrest situation, even bad CPR is better than no CPR,” Caffentzis said.

He cited a similar program being used successfully in Finland, although emphasized the country’s higher-than-average rate of medical training for average citizens.

“I think it’ll be interesting to see how it’ll work here in Madison,” Caffentzis said. “But I don’t know how much more helpful it will be than just regular dispatch.”

Correction: A previous version of this article referred to Bryan Coats as a city of Madison EMT. He is a Town of Madison EMT. The Daily Cardinal regrets this error.

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