February is Heart Health Month, and a new tool available to Oahu residents could help save the lives of those experiencing cardiac arrest.
Anyone with a smart phone can download PulsePoint; it's an app that alerts bystanders when someone's heart suddenly stops working properly.
Almost a thousand people per day in the U.S. die from sudden cardiac arrest.
Kenny Smith, 43, experienced cardiac arrest on Dec. 6 while he was playing basketball at the Nuuanu YMCA.
"I work out every day, no signs, I have a healthy heart. No clogged arteries or anything like that," Smith said.
Luckily, bystanders with an automated external defibrillator treated him until first responders arrived.
They helped save his life.
"The first five minutes are crucial. Without oxygen in the first five minutes, brain cells start to die." said Dean Nakano, chief of the city's Emergency Medical Services.
Increasing response times could mean a life-or-death difference, so at the Nuuanu YMCA on Wednesday the city's Emergency Medical Services Department announced a partnership with PulsePoint, a 911-integrated mobile app that gives first responders a headstart.
"Just by having someone come and do CPR, before EMS or any of the other first responders get there, will help keep him or her alive," paramedic Kenneth Faria said.
The life-saving technology crowdsources nearby help.
When someone calls 911 to report a sudden cardiac event, the operator sends an alert to nearby PulsePoint users, who are then able to aid the victim. It's described as an Amber Alert for cardiac arrest victims.
"You download the app on your smart phone, it'll give you a notification that there's an incident in your vicinity within a half a mile," Nakano said. "It'll also point you to the nearest AED, and you go grab the AED, go the patient's side, start your high performance CPR."
CTIA Wireless Foundation paid $30,000 for EMS to participate in the PulsePoint app, and the city says it will pay $10,000 per year to maintain it. Right now, it's only available on Oahu, but plans to bring it to the Big Island are in the works.
Last year, rescuers responded to more than 700 calls for sudden cardiac arrest, with a survival rate of just 8 percent.
"It's just these types of things can happen to anybody," said Smith. "Hey, download it. It'll get your life saved, I'm pretty sure."