New Program Combines Off-Duty Professional Firefighters, Technology, and Defibrillators to Help Save Lives
Sioux Falls will be the second site in the United States selected for a pilot program that utilizes off-duty professional firefighters to respond to cardiac arrest calls in public and private settings.
The Verified Responder Pilot Program is being launched in Sioux Falls through a partnership of the PulsePoint Foundation, Sioux Falls Fire Rescue, International Association of Firefighters Local 814, and automated external defibrillator (AED) manufacturer Philips. The first pilot site for the Verified Responder program was implemented earlier this year with Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue in Oregon.
More than 350,000 Americans each year have an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) where the heart stops beating, and only 12 percent survive, according to the American Heart Association. The chance of survival decreases by ten percent with every passing minute without CPR.
“Although survival rates in the Sioux Falls area are above the national average, our community continues to strive to increase a person’s chance of survival during a sudden cardiac event,” says Brad Goodroad, Sioux Falls Fire Rescue Chief. “We know that survival relies on early CPR and early defibrillation.”
The community has already been using PulsePoint Respond, a software application designed to support public safety agencies in improving cardiac arrest survival rates by notifying CPR-trained volunteers if someone nearby in a public location is having a cardiac emergency. Since its introduction five years ago, the PulsePoint application has saved numerous lives in the United States when cardiac arrest happened in public places. However, there were no programs in the United States with the ability to respond to a home or private location prior to or along with emergency responders, and the Verified Responder program allows us to close that gap.
The Verified Responder Pilot Program utilizes the PulsePoint application. In addition, Philips Healthcare has provided AEDs to participating firefighters who can then respond to cardiac emergencies. Participating professional firefighters are certified emergency medical technicians or paramedics who receive background checks as part of employment with Sioux Falls Fire Rescue.
The effort will gather important data from the Sioux Falls pilot for future lifesaving strategies and products. During the pilot, King County Emergency Medical Services in Washington State will assist with programmatic evaluation for potential expansion to additional communities.
“We were proud to introduce PulsePoint to Sioux Falls several years ago,” says Goodroad, “and we are honored to be the second site in the country selected for the Verified Responder program. Sudden cardiac arrest strikes without warning, and our team is dedicated to improving survival rates in our community.”