An area university has brought its technical expertise to the table to help develop a live-saving mobile application for fire departments and first responders.The Center for Applied Informatics
(CAI) at Northern Kentucky University in June joined the advisory board of the PulsePoint Foundation
, a non-profit group created to develop and expand the use of a mobile application that helps fire departments spread information and emergency information.
"In today's connected world, the public can stay current on emergency situations via this application directly from the EMS/Fire unit," says Tim Ferguson, executive director and chief information officer of the CAI at NKU. "The technology automates this with integration with the 9-1-1 system. Public service now and in the future will be more focused on providing real-time information from the teams that provide the service."
The mobile technology, known as the Fire Department CPR notification application, was originally developed and tested by the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District in California, in conjunction with CAI, Ferguson says.
"It began several months ago as a research project," Ferguson says. "NKU has provided our mobile application research to the foundation."
The application currently works on the iOS platform found on Apple iPhones, says Josh Rodamer, marketing specialist for CAI.
Approximately 10 students and four faculty members served as graphic designers, testers and web and database developers on the project, which is similar to applications currently in use by school systems and other governmental agencies that need to communicate to the public, Ferguson says.
The partnership with PulsePoint falls in line with NKU's efforts to contribute back to the local community, says James Votruba, president of NKU.
"Collaboration with the PulsePoint Foundation perfectly aligns with Northern Kentucky University's community outreach mission," Votruba says. "This innovative technology has true potential to change and save lives, and we are proud to be part of such an initiative."
Besides normal fire department notifications, the application includes a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) function meant to increase life-saving measures and improve patient care. This helped earn the application multiple technology and innovation awards since its inception, including an American Heart Association Life Saver Heart Partner Award.
"The CPR feature connects someone trained in CPR who is close proximity-wise (within one block) to someone who is in need of CPR," Ferguson says. "This almost immediate response before EMS shows up can save lives."
Approximately 10 fire and EMS departments throughout Northern Kentucky are in partnership talks with the PulsePoint Foundation and NKU regarding the mobile application – including the Erlanger, Ky, Fire/EMS Department.
"We have been working with them to review the Fire Department Application and to hopefully deploy it in the fall," Ferguson says. "They are a good example of a local EMS/Fire that sees the mobile technology as a necessary step in informing the public and in fact public service."
The department was informed of the project by a mutual partner it has with the university, Sprint Wireless.
"Sprint, knowing our desire to be cutting edge, thought our department would be a good local match for NKU," says Steve Castor, an officer with the Erlanger Public Safety Communications Center.
The application benefits not only fire and EMS units, Castor says, but the public as well.
"The more hands out there, the better," Castor says. "It's putting that many more trained people out there (in the area of an incident) that can help someone until that paramedic or ambulance arrives."
Residents that sign up and download the application, once the city of Erlanger institutes it, will be acting under the Good Samaritan laws and not as agents of the city, says Terry Allen, Erlanger fire chief.
Allen says he wishes he had the application one evening while eating at Outback Steakhouse when another diner began choking.
"All of a sudden the EMS showed up and I didn't know about it," Allen says, "but if I had this application I could have helped."
Not only will the application notify citizens of medical emergencies and locations of defibrillators but also of road closures and other information, Allen says.
There is no additional cost to taxpayers if the city institutes the application, Allen says.
"I think it's a tremendous tool for the public and we are 100 percent behind it," he says. "It's worth it if we can help save a life."
A presentation on the mobile application is to be presented at the Erlanger City Council meeting Aug. 2, Allen says.By James Sprague