New CPR App can help save a child's life


by Jean Enersen

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Posted on May 14, 2011 at 10:00 AM

Updated Saturday, May 14 at 11:04 AM

"What's important is that you're not leaning any of your body weight on the victim," said Red Cross CPR instructor Judy Fountain to a class full of students.

To learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation, anyone can go through classes like the one held at the Seattle Red Cross headquarters. It can save a child's life. But few parents take the course.

"It's actually surprising. We don't have as many parents as you would expect," said Sonia Nurkse, Instructional Programs Manager for the American Red Cross Chapter serving King and Kitsap Counties.
Now a new free application for mobile phones, called iResus, gives rescue instructions if a child is choking, or not breathing. A team led by Seattle Children's Anesthesiologist Dr. Daniel Low developed the new App.

"Someone's called 9-1-1. We've opened the airway. As a reminder of how to open the airway, this is how I position my left and right hand," Dr. Low demonstrated the App, that included the image of the hand positions.

Dr. Low said his new App should not be regarded as a substitute for training or for calling 9-1-1 in an emergency.

"The 9-1-1 dispatch people will actually walk you through it. So listen to their guidance," he said.

But his new App works even when there's no cell phone coverage.  And it takes panicked rescuers through simple steps, with the help of images. He got the idea from seeing pilots' emergency checklists.

"When they have a crisis mid-flight, rather than relying on their memory to remember what to do they will pull out the appropriate checklist, or the appropriate procedural document and actually walk through it," he said.

His team tested a version of the App he created for health care professionals. Doctors responded to a simulated cardiac arrest. The doctors who used the App scored 17% better on a series of objective criteria than those who relied on memory alone.

"The doctors in our study were amazed themselves at how much better they did when they had the phone. And one of the questions we asked them was would you be willing to use this in a real emergency, and the response was an overwhelming yes," he said.
Though Dr. Low and the Red Cross both advise parents to get training, they also said, in an emergency, every second counts for a child's survival. Don't wait until help arrives to start rescue CPR on a child.

"You don't wait. If they're not moving, they're unconscious, there's no signs of life, you start CPR," said Dr. Low.

The new App was scientifically tested in the U.K. Dr. Low said the guidelines it uses are comparable to the Red Cross or American Heart Association CPR. You can download the iResus App for free onto your iPhone, and it will soon be available through Android Marketplace.