Burlington County and Virtua Utilize Innovative Smart Phone Technology to Help Save Lives

Burlington County and Virtua, a non-profit healthcare system operating in Southern New Jersey, have launched an innovative mobile app to help save lives in Burlington County. Using location-aware technology, PulsePoint alerts CPR-trained persons in a public place to someone nearby in sudden cardiac arrest who may require CPR. The app is free to download for Android and iOS (Apple) mobile devices. The PulsePoint app is the first of its kind to be used in Southern New Jersey with Burlington County being the third jurisdiction on the East Coast to offer it. It is also currently available in Howard County, Maryland, and Jersey City, New Jersey.

“Virtua has a long history providing excellent health care and emergency medical services to the nearly 500,000 residents of Burlington County,” said Mary Ann O’Brien, Freeholder Director of the Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders. “We are honored to be the first jurisdiction in our region to offer this life-saving technology. Through this partnership with Virtua, we believe this tool will encourage people to learn CPR and will help save countless lives.”

When a 911 call alerts dispatch to a cardiac arrest victim, the PulsePoint app is activated by the Burlington County public safety communications center while simultaneously notifying local emergency responders and Virtua paramedics. When activated, anyone within a quarter mile who has downloaded the app to their mobile device will receive a push notification on their smart phone with the location of the emergency. The app also provides the location of the nearest, known publicly accessible Automated External Defibrillator (AED) device. 

“We are proud to bring this innovative life-saving tool to individuals living, working and visiting Burlington County,” said Richard P. Miller, President and CEO of Virtua. “At Virtua, we strive to be an active partner in the communities we not only serve, but also where we live and work. Virtua regularly explores the latest technology to help us continue providing the highest quality care to our communities.”

During a press conference with Burlington County officials, New Jersey legislators and nearly 400 healthcare professionals, Virtua conducted a demonstration of how the PulsePoint app works on a smart phone and invited all CPR-trained staff members to download the app and sign up. For individuals who are not CPR-trained, Virtua also announced that it is expanding its community health and safety education initiatives and will offer CPR trainings to non-clinical Virtua staff as well as Burlington County residents at no cost.

According to the American Heart Association, nearly 326,000 out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrests occur annually. Effective bystander CPR provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival, but only 32 percent of cardiac arrest victims get CPR from a bystander.

“PulsePoint will allow communities in Burlington County to harness the enormous life-saving potential of our citizens,” said John Drinkard, Director of Public Safety for Burlington County. “It’s an important tool for many of whom are ready and willing to perform CPR and use an AED in the most critical moments before trained EMS providers arrive.”

For the first time, CPR guidelines issued by the American Heart Association just last month recommended that communities consider using social media and mobile app technology to alert CPR responders when someone nearby suffers sudden cardiac arrest. The new guidelines cite studies that show emerging mobile technologies can result in a “higher rate of bystander-initiated CPR.”

“With thousands of cardiac arrests each day in the U.S., the life-saving potential of bystander intervention should not be overlooked,” said Scott Kasper, Assistant Vice President of Emergency Medical Services for Virtua. “The American Heart Association’s CPR guidelines underscore the enormous benefit of having bystanders respond to sudden cardiac arrests – performing early CPR and finding and using an AED. Mobile devices are already in millions of hands and the PulsePoint app puts lifesaving skills and awareness into those hands.”