Can a new smartphone application being piloted in Michigan save lives?

Can a new smartphone application being piloted in Michigan save lives?

For residents of Saginaw County, the odds of surviving sudden cardiac arrest are starting to get a lot better.

An initiative spearheaded by the Michigan CardioVascular Institute Foundation and Mobile Medical Response has made Saginaw County the pilot for a smartphone application called PulsePoint, the only county in Michigan involved in testing the technology. In fact, this is only the 12th implementation of the application in the country, and the first in the Midwest. The initiative was introduced during MCVI’s Shocks and Saves charity hockey game on Feb. 2, an event sponsored by BCBSM.

The premise behind the app is simple.  People trained in basic CPR are encouraged to download the PulsePoint app. When someone goes into cardiac arrest, people who are trained and who are currently near the victim are messaged through the app so that CPR can be administered until the ambulance arrives.

“During cardiac arrest, seconds really do matter. Immediate chest compressions can triple the chances of survival. Waiting for the ambulance is not the answer — it takes a community to combat sudden cardiac arrest,” says Lynn M. Schutter, director of community relations/strategic planning for MMR. 

Diane Fong, the MCVI Foundation’s president and CEO, said if one person is saved this year, the pilot will be worth the effort.

“There are about 300 cases of (non-trauma related) sudden cardiac arrest in Saginaw County annually. Applying national survival statistics, less than 25 of these victims survive. Our goal is to increase that number…one dad, one mom, one daughter, one friend at a time,” says Fong.

She notes that while the pilot program is limited to Saginaw County, other communities are being identified for expansion. To make sure they are building on the success of this pilot, both organizations will be looking to expand into communities where their service territories overlap. They are hopeful that an announcement can be made during the first week of June in recognition of National CPR/AED Awareness Week.

There are a few simple ways you can help.

  • Learn CPR. (Go to for a listing of free, one-hour classes. These training sessions do not provide certification cards.)
  • Download the app. (PulsePoint app is free.)
  • Help when called.

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