App alerted good Samaritan to man in cardiac arrest

The app, PulsePoint, allows users to view and receive alerts on calls being responded to by fire departments and emergency medical services


Mindy Pennybacker
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser

When cardiac arrest strikes, a trained bystander’s early administration of CPR can jump-start the victim on the path to revival before professional first responders arrive.

That happened in the case of Honolulu resident Alf Schneider, 80, to whom good Samaritans administered CPR after he collapsed in cardiac arrest on a Waikiki sidewalk May 25 after marching in a Memorial Day Parade with his Celtic bagpipes-and-drums band.

But Schneider’s case was also unique in Honolulu at the time because while the first Good Samaritan was a classic bystander on the scene, the second was alerted by a smartphone app that showed Schneider’s proximity on a map. The app, PulsePoint, allows users to view and receive alerts on calls being responded to by fire departments and emergency medical services, letting them know if someone in their vicinity is in need.

According to the City and County of Honolulu Emergency Services Department, Schneider’s was the first known cardiac arrest survival in Honolulu in which the app played a role.

In a celebratory event held Friday at The Queen’s Medical Center, a hale-looking Schneider thanked the good Samaritans, EMS first responders and Straub Medical Center staff who teamed up to save him. He also expressed his gratitude to EMS for launching the pilot program that introduced the PulsePoint app in Honolulu with a CTIA Wireless Grant in 2017, and to The Queen’s Medical Center for funding the ongoing program.

“It is a great feeling to be able to meet the men and women who are responsible for saving my life,” Schneider said. “I also feel good knowing my experience stresses the importance of early CPR and using an AED (automated external defibrillator), all through a cellphone app.” (PulsePoint has a second app that maps the location of nearby AEDs, which are portable devices.)

Among the first to receive a lei from Schneider, wife Nina Schneider and their daughter Ina, who had flown in from Denver for the event, was Jason Bensan, who had started CPR with Schneider as the first good Samaritan on the scene. A San Francisco Bay Area cardiac nurse, he had been on vacation with his wife, Cossella Bensan, walking to watch the sunset at Waikiki Beach, when they noticed the crowd of men in plaid.

“The last time I saw you, you were in a kilt,” a smiling Bensan told Schneider as they hugged.

Cossella Bensan described running from business to business in Waikiki, searching in vain for an AED while her husband administered CPR to Schneider. If she’d had the app, she said, she could have seen whether and where a defibrillator was available.

The second good Samaritan, Josh Moroles, a Honolulu Fire Department recruit and former Honolulu Ocean Safety lifeguard, said his PulsePoint app was triggered at the same time 911 was called on Schneider’s behalf. Moroles was also in Waikiki and used the app to find Schneider, to whom he administered chest compressions, keeping his heart going until EMS and Honolulu Fire Department personnel arrived. Schneider underwent triple bypass surgery at Straub Medical Center.

Every month, Honolulu Emergency Medical Services responds to an average 80 cardiac arrests, about half of which occur in a public place and thus within the scope of PulsePoint, said Rick Bruno, a Queen’s Medical Center doctor. The average Honolulu EMS survival rate for nontraumatic cardiac arrest is about 33%; the national average is 32%. But where bystander CPR was performed, the Honolulu EMS average survival rate is 44%, and the national average is 40%.

There are currently 3,084 people following Honolulu PulsePoint, but the app can’t do it all: Bruno urged that everyone get trained in CPR.

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©2019 The Honolulu Star-Advertiser

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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