PulsePoint Respond

Dear Members;

RE:  PulsePoint Respon 

It is with great excitement that I announce our support of the new mobile smartphone app, PulsePoint Respond.  In collaboration with BCEHS and other stakeholders, APBC/EDBC will be on hand at a large-scale media event today at Virtual Way to launch the app.

PulsePoint Respond is a mobile smartphone app that alerts users of a possible sudden cardiac arrest near their location.  The app intends to engage willing bystanders to start CPR and apply an automatic external defibrillator (AED) prior to paramedic’s arrival.  Studies have shown that the early application of these basic skills can increase a person’s chance of survival by as much as 75%.

App users will receive alerts at the same time Paramedics are dispatched for any suspected cardiac arrest emergency within 400 meters of their location. In addition to sending a text notification alert, the app also provides the location of nearby public access AED’s to assist bystanders and users. The app will work across British Columbia, alerting users to incidents in public locations only.   

We believe our involvement and support of this innovative program is an excellent opportunity to engage the public and promote our profession.  Through our active participation in the launch of this app, we can demonstrate our commitment to providing our patients with the best possible care. Our paramedics and dispatchers work tirelessly to achieve positive outcomes for patients in BC, and we are hopeful the use of this app will increase survival rates for out of hospital cardiac arrests in our province. 

We would like to encourage all our members to take a moment to download the app and familiarize yourself with it’s use.  Please be prepared to answer questions from the public following today’s launch.  It is important that we promote the use of the app in a professional and responsible manner. 

You can download the apps from the Apple Store or Google Play.

We recognize that the launch of this app may generate some concern or uncertainty from our members regarding patient confidentiality and scene management.  The app is already successfully used in the United States and Ontario.  Alerts are issued to users for incidents in public locations only.  Cardiac arrests that occur at home will not solicit the use of the app.  On scene, paramedics are the frontline medical professional dedicated to managing the patient’s care – this app does not change that.  Please see some FAQ below from pulsepoint.org that address general concerns and do not hesitate to provide feedback on your interactions with the app as you perform your duties. 

Thank you in advance for your support.  Stay tuned to our website and social media accounts for further updates and coverage of today’s media event.


Frequently Asked Questions from pulsepoint.org:

Is there a risk that the app will draw too many bystanders to the emergency medical scene?

Only about a third of Sudden Cardiac Arrest victims receive bystander CPR, and public access Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) are used less than 3% of the time when needed and available. The current situation is far too few bystander rescuers – not too many. The goal of the app is to engage additional bystanders in these lifesaving acts. If this situation was to truly materialize in the future it would be a major success and the radius of the notification could be reduced.

How do you prevent someone from using the CPR/AED notification to steal from or otherwise take advantage of a cardiac arrest victim?

For the app to be activated someone must first call the local emergency number (such as 911) to begin a normal public safety response. This means that the victim is likely not alone when the CPR/AED notifications are made. In addition, the app is only activated for incidents occurring in public places (not at someone’s home for example) furthering the likelihood that others will be present. Also, since the app is only activated on devices in the immediate vicinity of the victim, a “Bad Samaritan” would have little opportunity to be in the right place at the right time.

How do you know if people subscribing to the CPR/AED notification are really trained and qualified?

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. 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. Learn how you can help save a life in this one-minute American Heart Association video showing Hands-Only CPR in action.

Does the app raise any HIPAA or other privacy concerns? (HIPAA is United States legislation, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) is similar Canadian legislation)

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects the privacy of individually identifiable health information. On a ‘CPR Needed’ notification, the app reports only an address (in a public place) and a business name, if available. Individually identifiable health information, such as name, birth date, or Social Security Number are not reported or known to the PulsePoint application. In addition, PulsePoint has retained Page, Wolfberg & Wirth, LLC to assist agencies understand legal issues related to the implementation of PulsePoint. PWW is well respected EMS law firm specializing in dispatch liability and HIPAA issues.

The PulsePoint app is a Location-Based Service (LBS) with the ability to make use of the geographical position of your mobile device. The LBS capabilities of the app allow you to see your current location relative to the incidents occurring around you. This is an optional feature that is not enabled by default – you must specially opt-in to utilize this functionality. In addition, if you opt-in to the CPR/AED notification, the PulsePoint server will store your current location for immediate reference during an emergency where you may be nearby. In this case, only the current location of your device is stored (no movement history is maintained) and your identity is never known to the PulsePoint application.

Please click HERE to view PDF version of this memo.