Critical help at fingertips

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A Gembrook university student has designed an app that could help reduce critical response times for cardiac arrest emergencies, through the use of crowd sourcing.

Inspired by a friend who is at risk of heart failure, Kaelan Dekker began researching why Australia might have one of the lowest survival rates for cardiac arrests in the developed world.

“It’s averaging around 13 minutes in Victoria, bordering on 20 minutes across the country.

Out of the 22,000 Australians who fall victim to a cardiac arrest each year, only nine per cent survive and that’s not acceptable in the slightest,” Mr Dekker said.

“What it comes down to is that Australia is a sparsely populated country. Ambulances can’t reach everyone.

“The best solution was to find a way for people to help other people.”

The free Crowd Saviour app would connect people with those nearby who have appropriate first aid training – essentially CPR.

Once downloaded, users would be required to prove their certification so that other users would receive an alert with the nearest people capable of performing CPR.

“Let’s think of a scenario where there’s an elderly couple and one of them stops breathing, the partner won’t be physically strong enough to perform CPR but their neighbour can,” Mr Dekker said.

“Crowd Saviour uses GPS positioning to make sure that if someone can deliver the lifesaving CPR needed to extend a victim’s life until an ambulance arrives, they can.

“The main challenge is funding.”

Mr Dekker told the Gazette he had sought feedback from “several nurses and doctors” who had backed his idea.

In comparing the app to simulations, Mr Dekker has estimated that cardiac arrest survival rates could rise from nine per cent to more than 40 per cent; equating to more than 6000 lives each year.

St Vincent’s Private Hospital division one registered nurse Suzanne Pinchbeck said the app was a “fabulous” idea.

“If people are happy to respond, they’re the ones you want coming to help when a first responder is not within reach,” she said.

“We see a lot of car accident victims and people often don’t keep an eye on their airway and that’s huge. It’s the most important thing to check – if someone’s in danger – to be able to move them safely.

“I think it’s a great idea that people who are skilled to assist can help if they are the first person to the scene.

“It could mean the difference between surviving or being a paraplegic or not surviving at all.”

Red Cross first aid representative Paul Dobson agreed that more people with first aid skills and knowledge could increase survival rates of people who suffer a cardiac arrest.

“While Red Cross applauds innovation in the emergency response sector, we’d always want measures in place to ensure people don’t put themselves into danger,” Mr Dobson said.

“The first basic response of someone trained to deliver first aid is to assess the danger. An app that calls on people to respond may not allow that opportunity.”

Ambulance Victoria declined to provide comment.

For more information, visit http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1143618477/crowd-saviour

Originally published at Pakenham Gazette.

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About Alana Mitchelson

Alana Mitchelson is a journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Follow her on Twitter at @AlanaMitchelson.

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