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Pierce County firefighters say downloading this free app can save lives

Firefighters staged a mock emergency to promote PulsePoint Respond, an app that notifies subscribers when someone needs CPR.

PUYALLUP, Wash. — Firefighters in Pierce County joined PulsePoint Respond, an app that notifies people who know CPR of medical emergencies happening within a quarter-mile radius. 

Altogether, 19 agencies in Pierce County are using the app and encouraging people who know CPR to download it.

To promote the app, first responders staged a mock emergency in South Hill Mall in Puyallup to show how it works. Once someone calls 911, people who have the app and are in the area near the medical emergency receive an alert. If they agree to respond, the app directs them to the emergency.

Dr. Keith S. Gates, an emergency medical services physician with the Gig Harbor Fire Department said the app could save lives in the critical moments after someone suffers a cardiac arrest.

“You only have about four to six minutes before the brain, which is in a no flow state, not receiving any blood, starts to die off,” said Gates. “If that goes to 10 minutes, then you have irreversible brain death.”

According to the American Heart Association, heart attack deaths are highest during the months of December and January, the holiday season.

Also see | Off-duty doctor gets PulsePoint app alert, saves man's life

Gig Harbor resident Julie Offner knows firsthand the power of CPR. Offner’s heart stopped as she was walking the neighborhood canvassing for a school bond measure in 2018.

“I ran up two flights of stairs, and then I collapsed,” said Offner. She happened to be canvassing with a woman who knew CPR.

“The early minutes were really critical in saving my life and saving the quality of my life,” Offner said.

The mock emergency at South Hill Mall was just a drill, but still drew one PulsePoint user who happened to be within the notification radius.

Chasie Buier, an emergency room technician, said her phone sent her an alert during the demonstration.

“I was actually on the phone with my mom, and it was vibrating and it said ‘Medical Emergency Near You,’” Buier said. “It asked me to respond and so I pressed respond and it kind of led me this direction.”

Offner said it shows the power of PulsePoint and CPR.

“It could be the difference between life or death,” she said.

RELATED: Lives being saved with PulsePoint app