Life-Saving App Sends Alert When Someone Nearby Has a Heart Attack

Washington, D.C., joined other area jurisdictions in using a potentially life-saving app that alerts people who know CPR to the location of people suffering heart attacks.

People who have the PulsePoint app on their phones are alerted to 911 calls for cardiac arrest within a quarter mile of their location when they are in a city or county that uses the app. The alert goes out the exact time an ambulance is dispatched, and it also tells you where to find the nearest AED device.

Last summer, Sean Macguire had a heart attack at work in Howard County, Maryland, and someone called 911. Around the corner, Simone Rockstroh got an alert and got to Macguire and performed CPR before paramedics arrived.

“The fact that she showed up a few minutes before them, it’s the only reason I’m standing here,” he said.

Howard County officials credited PulsePoint for saving his life.

“It’s a great feeling for me, and I assume it’s a great feeling for Sean,” Rockstroh said.

In Prince George’s County, two lives have been saved at the MGM National Harbor, where security guards use the app.


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“It’s a game-changer,” said Alan Etter of the D.C. Office of Unified Communications.

It’s important for business and building managers to register their AEDs with their local 911 call centers, Etter said.

“You don’t necessarily have to be CPR certified but you have to be willing to help, and this is an opportunity to get more people responding to an individual who might need it,” he said.

If you don’t know CPR, a 911 operator will walk you through it, and AED devices have easy to follow instructions,” Etter said.

PulsePoint can be used in D.C., Prince William County in Virginia, and Howard and Prince George’s counties in Maryland.

It costs $18,000 a year for Prince George’s County and about $45,000 for D.C., but in both jurisdictions the costs have been paid for through grants.

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