New smartphone app could save lives when sudden cardiac arrest occurs in public place

A new smartphone app is set to turn B.C. bystanders into potential life-savers when a sudden cardiac arrest occurs in a public place.

BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) launched the free PulsePoint application on Wednesday throughout the province. It provides vital information in the case of cardiac arrest, where minutes count in reducing suffering and preventing death.

Smartphone users with Pulsepoint are connected to the BCEHS emergency dispatch system. When a sudden cardiac arrest is reported at a public location through 9-1-1, dispatchers can send the location to people with mobile devices located within short walking distance. A user with training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can then quickly go to the patient and begin CPR while paramedics are en route.

The smartphone alert also shows users a map pinpointing the location of nearby portable public defibrillators, which are another important tool which the general public can use safely before paramedics arrive.

British Columbia is the first to have a province-wide program for this public notification service. Pulsepoint currently operates in an Ontario municipality and in a number of US counties and cities.

The PulsePoint app can be downloaded from both the Apple Store for iOS and from Google Play Store for Android OS.

Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, said: “Rollout of this application province-wide is an excellent example of our health care professionals innovating to improve care for British Columbians. Research has shown that receiving CPR quickly after a sudden cardiac arrest doubles chances of survival. Bystanders using PulsePoint and CPR, along with BCEHS staff, can now have an even greater impact on saving lives.”

Linda Lupini, BCEHS/PHSA Executive Vice President, said: “This app essentially crowdsources CPR so that the closest available person trained in this life-saving skill gets to the person suffering a cardiac arrest. At BC Emergency Health Services, our paramedics and dispatch staff have long recognized the critical role of bystander CPR. This technology will take us one step further in maximizing our efforts.”

Gillian Wong, Heart and Stroke Foundation, added: “If you can’t get to a CPR course immediately, you can still give someone their best chance of surviving a cardiac arrest by doing three simple steps: Call 9-1-1 and shout for an AED; Push hard and fast in the centre of the chest; and Use an AED as soon as it arrives.”

Quick Facts


  • Sudden cardiac arrest occurs without notice and leaves patients unconscious. Without immediate help, a victim of sudden cardiac arrest will suffer brain damage within three minutes.
  • In 2017, BCEHS paramedics responded to 7,101 cardiac arrests.
  • Bystanders performed CPR in approximately 25 per cent of these cases.
  • The survival rate beyond 30 days for sudden cardiac arrest in BC is approximately 10 per cent.
  • A UK study published in the journal Resuscitation found that the PulsePoint App, as compared to phone texting systems, was highly efficient in the recruitment of first responders, significantly reducing the time to the initiation of CPR, thus increasing survival rates.
  • The effectiveness of Pulsepoint will be studied in BC and other parts of Canada and the US to determine whether the app increases public participation in cardiac arrest resuscitation. BC is expected to take part in this randomized, controlled research trial starting in 2018.