COLLIN COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) - When it comes to cardiac arrest, every second counts.
The City of Plano is launching a new smart phone app that is helping everyday people become first responders.
The PulsePoint app is already utilized by agencies all over the United States. In North Texas, Plano Fire-Rescue is the first city fire department to join the network. Ambulatory service ETMC EMS is also a member of Pulse Point.
Here's how it works – when a 911 call comes in for cardiac arrest, the app uses GPS to ping the cell phones of CPR-trained users in the immediate area. It will also show those people where to find a public access defibrillator.
PulsePoint is free to use and register.
Marty Wade, Plano's Fire Chief, hopes everyone comfortable performing CPR in Plano will consider using it. "If you think about the key element of surviving a sudden cardiac arrest event, you need CPR. You need it as soon as possible and you really need it before fire and rescue personnel arrive. We need you for that."
Mark Gamber, Medical Director for Plano, says if a bystander can start chest compressions before paramedics arrive, it doubles or triples the victim's chances of survival. "By doing compressions, you keep someone in a rhythm we can bring back."
Paul Park knows the life or death experience all too well. The Plano husband and father of two sons suffered a severe heart attack in January. Park was at a friend's neighborhood party, when he says he felt something like heartburn.
"My head just tilted back. I was sitting in a chair. One of my neighbors said, 'Hey, wake him up.' When they went to wake me up, he saw all I lost all the color in my face," he recalled.
Park's wife called 911. Meanwhile, his friend and neighbor, Pam Taylor, stepped forward to help.
Park said, "She immediately pulled me out of the chair, put me on the ground and started doing CPR."
Taylor performed chest compressions for seven minutes, until fire fighters arrived. Park spent three days in a medically induced coma. Doctors later discovered the 46-year-old had a blocked artery.
"Even though I thought I was healthy, going to the gym and all that, I still ended up having a 100 percent blockage on one side of my heart, and having a heart attack I never saw coming," said Park. A pace maker helps his heart beat today.
Park credits the CPR provided by Taylor with saving his life. He hopes the PulsePoint app will empower bystanders with CPR skills to do the same. He's already signed up, and imagines many of his neighbors will, too.
"You're never going to hurt somebody. Doing nothing is what's going to hurt. If you do anything at all, it will help."
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