Williamson County launches phone app to help save lives with CPR


The phone app, called PulsePoint, alerts people with CPR training about those who need help nearby.

The phone app only alerts CPR responders about people having trouble in public places.

Williamson County has launched a free mobile phone app that alerts volunteers trained in CPR when someone nearby needs help.

The app, called PulsePoint, works to alert users up to 750 feet away from someone experiencing sudden cardiac arrest, said Williamson County EMS Director Mike Knipstein.

Survival rates decrease by 10 percent for every minute that passes for a person whose heart has stopped without receiving cardiopulmonary resuscitation, Knipstein said during a news conference Thursday in Round Rock.

“When a cardiac arrest occurs in Williamson County, almost 70 percent do not receive CPR from a bystander, and I don’t think it’s because our citizens don’t care; it’s because they don’t know, and we are going to turn to technology to help with that,” he said.

The alerts that users get from PulsePoint come from Williamson County Emergency Communications after it receives information from 911 callers.

PulsePoint will only alert users about people who are having heart problems in public places, including traffic wrecks, said Connie Watson, a spokeswoman for the county. It won’t alert users about calls involving law enforcement or calls from private property, she said.

The PulsePoint phone app also tells people where the nearest automatic external defibrillators are located. The machines are used to shock a heart back into beating

Williamson County is the only county in Central Texas using PulsePoint, said Watson. The city of Georgetown also uses it, according to its website.

The county paid $18,000 to start PulsePoint, and it will cost $8,000 annually, Knipstein said. He said Williamson County EMS administered CPR to 400 people last year. The agency also trained 2,800 people in CPR last year, he said.

It takes about 10 minutes to teach people how to provide CPR to adults, said Jim Persons, the agency’s outreach education coordinator. He did a CPR training session for several people at the news conference Thursday, including county Commissioner Valerie Covey.

Those in the training session placed their hands in the middle of the chests of rubber dummies and pushed down as hard as they could for one to two minutes.

Persons said people doing CPR need to try to push down at least 100 times a minute in one- to two-minute intervals until help arrives. He said there are songs people can sing to themselves that can help them time the chest compressions, including “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees and “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Williamson County EMS Commander Edward Tydings had some simple advice for people nervous about doing CPR: “Put your hands in the middle of the chest and push hard, fast and deep, and that’s how you save lives.”

Learning CPR

• Williamson County EMS offers free CPR classes. To sign up, go to wilco.org/EMS.

• Austin-Travis County EMS offers to teach groups CPR. To request an instructor, visit austintexas.gov/online-form/take-10-cpr-instructor-request.

• The Red Cross also offers CPR training. For more information, visit rdcrss.org/2oHT1Qq.

Watch county officials explain the new app and demonstrate CPR online at mystatesman.com.

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