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Smartphone application alerts users to nearby cardiac incidents, shows closest AEDs

COURTESY PHOTO: PULSEPOINT - The PulsePoint app shows users where nearby AEDs are located and provides other lifesaving services.On the tails of a successful campaign this year that brought 15 AEDs to the Woodburn Police Department, outfitting its entire fleet, comes another fundraiser for a smartphone application that could help save even more lives.

METCOM 911, the dispatch service that serves most of Marion County, is leading the charge to bring PulsePoint within its jurisdiction, a task that's easier said than done, as its computer-aided design system interface, application license and yearly maintenance fees amount to nearly $43,000.

What makes the PulsePoint app so appealing is that it was created to alert a user's phone when there's a cardiac incident happening nearby, and it alerts them to where the closest AEDs are located.

"It gives the opportunity for anyone to provide help to a person in need," said Gina Audritsh, director of METCOM. "It can sometimes take a long time to get there, especially if you think about the volunteer fire stations, when volunteers are at home and they get the call."

The chances of surviving a cardiac arrest incident are reduced by up to 10 percent with every minute that passes, according to the American Heart Association. And if it takes an average of seven or eight minutes for emergency responders to arrive on the scene, according to national statistics, that greatly deteriorates the success rate. With the app, a person can respond almost instantly.

"Through the CAD system, we'll dispatch units at the same exact time this PulsePoint alert is going out to anyone who has the app," Audritsh explained. "In most instances we're still on the phone and people are already being alerted."

And though it's best to be AED certified, all AEDS come with detailed instructions and they won't deploy unless their sensors indicate the need.

"It tells you exactly what to do, how to put the pads on and if (the victim) shouldn't be shocked it won't shock them," Audritsh said.

PulsePoint is already used in surrounding areas — Salem, Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue and Clackamas County, to name a few.

"Part of the challenge is everybody around us has PulsePoint, so there's sort of an expectation that it's capable here; but it's not," Audritsh said, noting that some, like Salem Fire Department, got theirs through grant funding, which is harder for METCOM to come by because it isn't a police or fire agency.

Simply funding Pulsepoint itself isn't easy, as METCOM gets 911 tax dollars that are earmarked for specific items, and the rest of the budget is whatever comes from the general fund for local police, fire and emergency medical services.

So METCOM started a fundraising campaign last month, with a goal of $18,000, as it has already purchased the needed interface for the dispatch's CAD system.

"The CAD system is what pushes out alerts to the PulsePoint app," Audritsh explained. "We've already funded that piece, but we can't use it until we raise the other part."

So far, $1,350 has been donated, and $1,000 of that is from the Mount Angel Chamber of Commerce.

"As a board we thought it was a good idea," explained Pete Wall, president of the Mount Angel chamber, which heard a presentation from Mount Angel Fire Chief Jim Trierweiler on the topic. "We were taken with the concept. What a great service it would be to the communities served by METCOM. We thought it was a really good opportunity to help public safety in the area."

The chamber has challenged other area chambers to match its donation, but none have stepped up so far.

METCOM has also sent letters to 600-plus large businesses, civic organizations and medical facilities in the area.

"If 18 people or businesses donated $1,000, we could be up and running," Audritsh said, adding that she hopes it can be implemented by January.

Local emergency agencies serviced by METCOM are promoting fundraising efforts. In fact, you can donate money by dropping off a check at your local fire station. You can also donate at any Columbia Bank and allocate money to the "METCOM PulsePoint Project," which is also what checks can be made out to. Checks can also be sent to METCOM, located at 1050 Mount Hood Ave., Woodburn, OR 97071 (Woodburn Police Station).

All donations are tax-deductible.

Check out the project's progress at www.metcom911.com.

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