"Biology gives us about 10 minutes to survive if our heart stops beating," said Richard Price, chief of the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District. "We have a goal or arriving within seven minutes which is pretty close to that 10 minutes...We need to suspend time and that's what CPR does."
The district, which is located about 35 miles east of San Francisco, is updating an app called "Fire Department," which will now be used to alert CPR-trained citizens in the event of a nearby cardiac emergency. The idea, according to Price, is to extend the reach of the department's 44 on-duty personnel to the thousands of local citizens who know CPR.
The system will only alert people if the emergency is in a public place, not if it occurs in a private home. Using the phone's GPS, the app directs rescuers to the "exact location of the nearest public access."
CPR, which stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is a relatively simple technique that can help get a person's heart started. The Mayo Clinic's Web site defines it as a "lifesaving technique useful in many emergencies, including heart attack or near drowning, in which someone's breathing or heartbeat has stopped." The Mayo Clinic page describes how to perform CPR and this video demonstrates the technique.
According to the San Ramon fire department, "Nearly 300,000 people die each year in the United States from cardiac arrest. Survival rates nationally for SCA are less than eight percent and brain death begins in just four to six minutes."
Price said that his department is reaching out to other departments around the country to make the App more widely available.
To find out more about the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District's iPad App, I spoke with its chief, Richard Price.