New iPhone app connects trained citizens to others in cardiac distress

In 2011, there needs to be a better way to empower citizens trained in CPR to receive alerts about nearby cardiac arrest victims with geolocated maps and the location of electronic defribrillators to help them.

Now, there’s an app for that too: firedepartment.mobi. The new new geolocation app connects citizen first responders to heart attack victims in San Ramon. FireDepartment can be downloaded directly from iTunes.

Today the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District (SRVFPD) in California launched a iPhone app that will dispatch trained citizens to help others in cardiac emergencies. This new application is the latest evolution of the role of citizens as sensors, where resources and information are connected to those who need it most in the moment. This FireDepartment app is also an important example of Gov 2.0, where a forward looking organization created a platform for citizens to help each another in crises and planned to make the underlying code available for civic developers to improve on. Given context and information, trained citizens in San Ramone will now be able to do more than alert authorities and share information: they can act to save lives. Here’s a demo of the app:

iPhone Demo from Fire Department on Vimeo.

Adriel Hampton called FireDepartment the perfect blend of technology, government and volunteers. Can an everyday citizen become a hero? As Joe Hackman observed, “Today it just got a lot easier.”


About Alex Howard

Alexander B. Howard is a DC-based a technology writer and editor. Previously, he was the Washington Correspondent at O'Reilly Media, where he covered the voices, technologies and issues that matter in the intersection of government, technology and society. If you're feeling social, you can follow him on Twitter, like him on Facebook or circle him on Google Plus In addition to corresponding for the O’Reilly Radar, he has contributed to the Huffington Post, Govfresh, Mashable, ReadWriteWeb, National Journal, The Atlantic, CBS News and Forbes. He graduated from Colby College with a bachelor's degree in biology and sociology. Currently, he is a resident of the District of Columbia, where he lives with his greyhound, wife, power tools, plants and growing collection of cast iron pans, many of which are frequently used to pursue his passion for good cooking.

3 thoughts on “New iPhone app connects trained citizens to others in cardiac distress

  1. This is truly an awesome application. Now I have some annoying questions.

    Should every citizen/visitor of San Ramone who carries an iPhone be required to have that app?

    What if someone dies and a person has an iPhone and could have, but does not use the app?

    What if someone uses the app and the person does not respond?

    Who does this open to litigation? People in the vicininty? Apple? The app developers?

    1. Mike, some of this is addressed in the Radar post on the FireDepartment app. With respect to requiring citizens or visitors to have the app, I have seen absolutely nothing proposed on that count. Moreover, I don’t think any citizen or official or worker would support that, since it smacks of over reach. The chief said that this is an opt-in system for citizens who volunteer and have been certified in CPR.

      With respect to your other questions, I think they would be best addressed to the fire chief or a lawyer, given that the legal issues you raise. You might as well ask what if someone is present but doesn’t call 911. Or if they are aware of a nearby AED but don’t use it. I’m not a law professor, so I’ll defer to those better equipped to answer those hypotheticals, but it seems to be that the app likely doesn’t break new ground in some of those areas, although I have no doubt that others will raise similar questions.

  2. One of the interesting things about this app is that it doesn’t really create anything new in terms of citizen CPR and its legal implications, it just radically increases the reach of potential responders. Chief Price today said that existing “Good Samaritan” laws should cover people using this app just as they do people who witness an incident in person.

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