When someone’s heart stops, there are just minutes to save them from brain damage or death; by the time medics arrive, it can be too late. This is the problem former San Ramon Valley Fire Department chief Richard Price set out to solve with the crowdsourced iOS app, PulsePoint.
Price came up with the idea for the app after a tragedy that happened feet from where he was sitting, reports Re/code.
He was off-duty at a local deli when he heard sirens. Emergency vehicles pulled up and he rushed outside to see what was going on. A man in a shop next door had collapsed and emergency responders were unable to revive him.
“He was on the other side of the wall, I couldn’t see him,” Price says. “He lay there unconscious with no one doing CPR. I had a (automated defibrillator) nearby in my vehicle.”
When the FCC set a voluntary deadline of yesterday for putting in place technology to allow people to text 911, all four of the main national carriers complied. But since most emergency call centres aren’t yet equipped to receive texts, don’t expect to be using it any time soon.
The FCC said that the ability to text 911 could be a life-saver for those with hearing or speech impairments, as well as in situations where it might be dangerous to make a phone call – while a crime is in progress and the perpetrator within earshot, for example.
But the wireless trade association, the CTIA, warned that even where 911 texting is supported, it’s still impossible to guarantee immediate delivery of texts. We’ve all experienced examples of texts that arrive the next day, so the advice remains to make a voice call wherever possible.
The FCC has uploaded a list of emergency call centres accepting 911 texts. If you attempt to text 911 in an area where the service is not supported, you’ll get a text bounce-back. Needless to say, please do not test the service.