The GoodSAM app
If your heart stops beating, a 10-minute wait for an ambulance might be too long. What if trained first-aiders could be sent to you faster?
The London Ambulance Service has started using an app called GoodSAM to try to speed up its first response. The app lets bystanders witnessing a life-threatening emergency call the emergency services with the press of a button, simultaneously sending alerts to three nearby trained responders. Ambulance crews can also use the app to alert responders who may be able to get to the patient before they do.
The goal is to get help on the scene as soon as possible, says, GoodSAM’s creator. When someone has a cardiac arrest, every minute without CPR reduces the victim’s chance of survival by 10 per cent. “It makes a big difference if you can get there early, so we have to use technology to find a way of providing that,” Wilson says. “We think this is a way of doing it.”
There’s an app for that
The London Ambulance Service has been using the app for about five months. It is used between 20 and 30 times a day to summon responders to the scene of a suspected cardiac arrest, tapping into some of the 7500 responders registered in the UK.
Wilson’s team has just added a video streaming function that lets bystanders send live video of the patient to responders. “We think it’s totally game-changing because you can see the patient before you even arrive,” he says. This gives emergency services extra information to go on. “If people aren’t really that poorly, then a taxi could go. If they’re really poorly, they get a hyperacute response.”
The app can also prevent someone from being given incorrect first-aid. In one case, a trained responder arrived to find ato a person who appeared to have had a cardiac arrest. The responder recognised the misdiagnosis and stopped the unnecessary chest compressions, which can risk breaking ribs.
A similar system called PulsePoint is being used in the US. And an app calledhas been running in Stockholm, Sweden since 2010. Last year, a showed that the system increased the rate of bystander-initiated CPR from 48 per cent to 62 per cent. Overall, however, the death rate did not decrease.
That may be because although CPR is a good start, it is better if a responder with a defibrillator can get to someone who’s had a heart attack. So the team created a national registry of publically available defibrillators, allowing the system to send some responders to start CPR and others to get a defibrillator.
“In Stockholm we have a lot of patients now who are defibrillated in the first 5 minutes, and 70 per cent of them survive,” saysat the Karolinska Institute, who ran the trial. “Early defibrillation is for sure the best life-saving thing.”
GoodSAM is also building up a map of defibrillators so they can be made available to responders.
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