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Suffolk County Hopes Phone App, Army Of CPR Volunteers Can Help Save Lives

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HOLBROOK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A little smartphone app may make a big difference in Suffolk County.

As CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, the county is rolling out the PulsePoint app and is asking anyone trained in CPR to download it and come to the rescue if someone nearby has a heart attack.

“When there’s a call goes out — sudden cardiac arrest — anyone that is within 400 feet who is signed up with PulsePoint will be alerted,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said.

911 will still dispatch an ambulance, but Suffolk officials are hoping with an army of citizen volunteers, help will be seconds away.

Seven hundred people already have signed up, increasing the survival odds for heart attack victims.

“Instead of a national 9-percent average, you’re seeing people reaching that 20, 30 percent range of success,” said Joel Vetter, EMS coordinator for Suffolk’s Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services.

Experts say any CPR is better than nothing.

“If I’m in a supermarket, I’m shopping in Aisle 2 and someone goes dow in Aisle 4, 5, 6, any place else in the store, I now know it,” said Jay Egan, the Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services Commission chairman.

Suffolk County Legislator Bill Lindsay said CPR volunteers should not fear any legal repercussions.

“With our Good Samaritan laws in New York, you’re exempt from any liability,” Lindsay said. “If you’re trying to do the right thing, just trying to help.”

The American Heart Association said theoretically the app would create a new generation of lifesavers who are tech savvy and ready to respond to the alerts.

The app also locates the nearest defibrillator. There are 3,000 in Suffolk, but they’re used less than 2 percent of the time.

PulsePoint is a not-for-profit foundation. It will cost Suffolk County $15,000 a year to run the app after the first two years, which are free.

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