Suffolk County Adopts A New App To Save Lives

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While Google Maps acts as a personal GPS, and a weather app can help with choosing the appropriate footwear, Suffolk County’s newest app, PulsePoint, is a lifesaver—literally.

PulsePoint, which was released by the Suffolk County Executive’s Office on Thursday, February 20, is a free smartphone app that allows CPR-certified residents to receive push notifications when a person within 400 feet of them goes into cardiac arrest. It also gives users the location of the nearest defibrillator in a given area.

“Seconds can save lives,” said Vanessa Streeter, director of communications at the Suffolk County Executive’s Office. “It’s proven that if CPR can be done within those first couple of minutes, the survival rate increases.”

Suffolk County is the first municipality on the East Coast to implement the app, which is funded through federal grants.

Here’s how it works:

When Suffolk County’s Fire Rescue Emergency Services receives a 911 call regarding a person in cardiac arrest, regular emergency services will be dispatched, in addition to immediately notifying all PulsePoint app users within 400 feet of where the medical emergency is taking place.

“We have more than 15,000 firefighters, nurses, EMS workers, in this county—but if you’re off duty for the day, and you’re in Home Depot, and somebody six aisles over from you is having a heart attack, you’d never know,” she said. “And now you can.”

The 400-foot radius, Ms. Streeter said, allows only those within walking distance to be notified, since the purpose of the app is to cut down on response time. The app also includes instructions on giving CPR properly.

As of Friday afternoon, she said, more than 1,600 people had downloaded the application. The hope is to see 30,000 downloads within a month of the launch date.

“We’re always looking for ways to use technology to improve public safety,” said Ms. Streeter, who added that Suffolk County also implemented the smartphone app Smart911 last summer. That app allows users to create a profile of their home, noting how many people live there, how many bedrooms there are, where the rooms are located, and if any autistic children live in the house, among other specifics.

“Depending on the individual’s circumstance, there may be some responders who are better equipped to deal with certain situations, and it allows for whoever is responding to know what to look for,” Ms. Streeter said.

The Montauk Fire Department’s emergency services department plans to implement the app within the next few weeks, said Alan Burke, captain of emergency medical services.

“It’s very new, but we definitely plan on using it,” Mr. Burke said. “I can guarantee you, within the next 30 days, it’s going to be on every EMT’s phone.”

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