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story.lead_photo.caption Chief of EMS Matt Lindewirth speaks during a press conference on Monday, March 16, 2020 at the Cole County Sheriff's Office. (Claire Hassler/News Tribune)

Cole County is considering a new way for residents to help people suffering cardiac arrest near them.

Cole County EMS Chief Matt Lindewirth and EMS Medical Chief Dr. Joshua Stilley, of the University of Missouri, joined an official of the PulsePoint Foundation in discussing a free-to-download app during Tuesday's Cole County Commission meeting.

PulsePoint Vice President of Community Engagement Kraig Erickson said the foundation, based in California, is a nonprofit that works with public safety agencies to build applications that help with communication between public safety personnel and local citizens.

"We're trying to get CPR-trained citizens to be alerted of CPR cardiac arrest events that may be nearby them so they can respond and start CPR," Erickson said. "It would be like an Amber Alert, but more proximity-based. The goal would be to alert any PulsePoint app user within a quarter-mile radius of a victim."

To get involved, people can download the app, follow their local 911 Center and turn on the "nearby CPR-needed" alerts. Users will then be notified when a cardiac arrest is happening near them. If an app user is CPR-certified, they can provide assistance. Bystanders using the app will also receive a notification with the location of the nearest automated external defibrillator, which are located in places such as churches, schools and government buildings.

"People often walk by an AED and don't know they are there," Erickson said.

The app provides a brief introduction to users of how to perform CPR and use an AED.

Users can also sign up for alerts from local fire departments through the app. The app will then notify them when there is a fire dispatch near them.

"PulsePoint can get people to a stricken person quickly, and with those early compression efforts, you can move survival chances for those people up to 75 percent," Erickson said.

PulsePoint has about 4,000 connected communities in North America. MU Health Care and Boone County officials announced this month they would be offering the app.

"Just getting more people to do hands-only CPR will have a big impact on out-of- hospital cardiac arrest survival rates," Stilley said. "This app is one way we think we could do that."

Lindewirth said this could also be a recruiting tool as people interested in becoming CPR-certified can sign up for group CPR training through the organizations such as the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association.

Commissioners decided to publish a sole-source ad to see if other vendors can provide a similar service. If another vendor offers a similar service, the commission could put the matter out to bid.

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