Smartphone app for volunteer responders
North East Ambulance Service has secured funding to partner with the GoodSAM smartphone app to support the region's residents who suffer cardiac arrest.
It is one of five projects to receive funding from Nesta and the Office for Civil Society as part of the Centre for Social Action Innovation Fund.
As a result, volunteer responders, including off duty paramedics and community first responders, will soon be able to register to be automatically alerted by the app when someone has a cardiac arrest nearby, along with the location of the nearest defibrillator.
GoodSAM (Good Smartphone Activated Medics) developers have built the system, using the latest technology. Responders will be alerted when a member of the public dials 999 in the North East to report a suspected cardiac arrest or triggers an alert via the GoodSAM Alerter app.
Gareth Campbell, emergency care operations manager said: “This is excellent news for the North East and means that those special skills our workforce uses every day to help save lives are even more accessible. When a public access defibrillator is used in cardiac arrest, the overall survival rate to discharge is 58.6 per cent. By ensuring a patient has a patent airway and quality CPR is in place in those first few minutes, they are more likely to achieve a good outcome.”
Once available for qualified first aid trained professionals to register, the NEAS operations centre will alert the three nearest responders to the life threatening incident and simultaneously dispatch an ambulance, giving the patient the best possible chance of survival. The partnership will not impact on or substitute standard ambulance dispatch, with crews continuing to be sent to scene in the usual way.
When a volunteer is alerted, they will be able to accept the alert via the GoodSAM app and make their way to the location of the incident. If a volunteer responder is not in a position to accept the alert, it can be declined and diverted to the next nearest responder.
Mr Campbell continued: “Having seen how successfully this app works in London, we are keen to bring GoodSAM to the North East for the benefit of our region’s patients. Thanks to this funding we are able to work in partnership with the GoodSAM team to bring this app to the North East.”
NEAS already has around 100 Community First Responders who are everyday members of the general public trained by NEAS in basic first aid and life support. They are provided with oxygen and a defibrillator and are deployed by NEAS to life threatening emergencies, such as chest pain, breathing difficulties, cardiac arrest, and unconsciousness, if they are the nearest resource, followed by the next nearest emergency care crew.
This app provides an opportunity for those with first aid skills to join the robust community of first responders already working within the North East.
Mr Campbell added: “Responders will be able to provide immediate care to a patient where every second counts, administering life-saving first aid while an ambulance is on its way. A patient who suffers a cardiac arrest stands a much better chance of survival if someone with a defibrillator can attend the patient in the first minutes of collapse.
“We will soon be in a position to invite clinicians to register and introduce an integrated and seamless approach that will enable our volunteer responders to be alerted via the app to patients suffering from cardiac arrest and the location of the nearest defibrillator.”
Professor Mark Wilson, GoodSAM’s Medical Director and Co-Founder, said: “If a patient has a cardiac arrest, it is the first few minutes after the incident that determine the outcome – life, death, or long-term brain damage.
“There are first aid trained people all around us but usually the first they know of a neighbour having a cardiac arrest is an ambulance appearing in their street. If they had known and started CPR a few minutes prior to the ambulance arriving, chances of survival can be considerably increased. GoodSAM now makes this possible, connecting those with the skills to the public in their minute of need.”