Fire chief unveils phone app to improve heart attack response, treatment
Jan 30, 2013 (The Oregonian - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
For April Frezza and Ralph Hering, Tuesday's announcement was a good ending -- and an even better beginning -- after the life-or-death drama they struggled through last year in Tigard.
Frezza, a computer wiz for Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, was walking near Southwest 72nd Avenue and Cherry Drive last April 22, when she suffered a heart attack.
As luck would have it, Hering, a retired Multnomah County sheriff's deputy, was passing by. Recognizing her distress, he called 9-1-1 and immediately began administering CPR.
"But it had been at least two decades since I had that training," said Hering, 67, of Southeast Portland. "The dispatchers had to coach me that I was doing it too slowly."
Frezza, for her part, responded well. When a TVF&R medical team arrived to take over, she already was stabilized.
"But I was lucky," said Frezza, 50, of Tigard. "That's why I am very pleased at with what TVF&R has done."
On Tuesday, Fire Chief Mike Duyck unveiled a new cell phone "app" that alerts users of nearby cardiac events in public places, including addresses and maps. The app also lists the closest AEDs -- automated external defibrillators -- that diagnose a cardiac patient's condition and explain exactly how to administer what can be a life-saving shock to restart a stricken heart.
The app was developed by PulsePoint, a California-based nonprofit that has attracted a total of 12 emergency-services agencies to join the program.
Tualatin Valley is the first department in Oregon.
"This is an extremely exciting day for the department and for the community it serves," Duyck said.
TVF&R responds to an average of 100 cardiac-related incidents a month among the 450,000 residents of the 220-square-mile area district. Because paramedics are placed with every unit, the district has notched an admirable cardiac survivability rate consistently near double the national average.
However, Duyck said even more lives may be saved if civilians trained in the current "hands-only" CPR download the PulsePoint app and sign up for alerts. To download the app to a smart phone, go to app-service for that particular type of phone and search for "PulsePoint." The rest is simply following clear directions.
Duyck also urged those who have purchased AEDs to contact TVF&R so their locations can be listed for would-be lifesavers. He said about 125 AEDs have been documented in the district.
"This kind of system would have made everything so much easier when I suffered my heart attack," Frezza said. "I'm proud of TVF&R for doing this, and I really hope people will take advantage of it."
-- Rick Bella Follow @southnewshound
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