San Francisco Pledges Support For Life-Saving 'Fire Department' Mobile App

Back in January I wrote about an ambitious new mobile application that has a very good chance of saving lives (perhaps even many lives). And it’s just gotten support from the City of San Francisco, which is the first major city to pledge support for this very important service.

The application itself is called Fire Department. Download it, and you’ll be asked if you’re trained in CPR. Click ‘Yes’, and the application will then passively monitor your location (without draining your phone’s battery). Here’s where the life-saving comes in: if someone calls 911 to report a possible heart attack victim, 911 dispatchers can send an alert to anyone in the vicinity with CPR training who has this app on their phone. They’ll immediately receive a push notification with the location of the victim, as well as the locations of any nearby automatic external defibrillators (AEDs). The whole process only takes a matter of seconds. Minutes are absolutely critical in these situations, and the immediate initiation of CPR before an ambulance arrives can be life saving.

But there’s still a lot of work to be done. At this point the service is only available in the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District where the initiative got its start (Lucas Hirst, who has helped spearhead the effort, is a friend of mine from high school). San Francisco is now on board, and is asking volunteers to help build a map of AEDs (which frequently go unused in emergencies because people simply don’t know they’re there). San Francisco hopes to have the technology working by the end of the year. The city’s website for the initiative is right here.

The news was announced at an event today by SF Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White and City Attorney Dennis Herrera, along with Fire Fighters Union Local 798. Now if only they’d fix the startup tax situation.