The Swedish are saving lives by sharing heart attack alerts with nearby responders – critical lifesaving minutes are being saved from heart attack response.
The world first software program(1) sends text messages to qualified CPR responders in the victim’s near vicinity, using a basic but workable method that logs where each trained responder works, or where their home is.
Those registered with SMSLifesaver receive automatic alerts, detailing the address of a victim if they are within 500 meters of a suspected cardiac arrest.
It is the location relevance of the alerts that is the innovative aspect of the software – it helps this “crowd” of qualified CPR responders work together efficiently, without the need of a centralised dispatch.
In 54% of cases the SMSLifesaver responder gets to the victim before the ambulance arrives.
In 2003 the Swedish cardiac arrest survival rate was 3%. Now it is almost 11% (1). This gain has been attributed to having far more responders available – the Swedish Fire Brigade and Police Department have been recruited to respond to cardiac arrest victims, which has increased the likelihood of a trained CPR responder being at the victim’s side in the critical first few minutes.
SMSLifesaver has been recognised as partly responsible for the improved Swedish survival rate, and that is not the program’s only achievement. It has also clearly illustrated how the resources of a crowd can be better used.
There are over 9,600 Stockholm residents contributing to the success of SMSLifesaver by being registered as voluntary CPR responders (only those trained in CPR are accepted). It seems to be an effective number of volunteers, particularly for Stockholm, where each heart attack alert may be attended by up to a dozen trained responders. In contrast to rural Swedish areas, where only one or two responders may receive an alert.
What about New Zealand and Australia?
According to Dr. Mårten Rosenqvist, it takes approximately 8 minutes for an ambulance to arrive in the Stockholm area (usually after the SMSLifesaver responder). By New Zealand and Australian standards even the “slow Swedish Ambulance” has a response time to be envied – our response times can fall short of this Swedish standard.
And when it comes to heart attack response, every minute counts. In Australia, people living in remote locations have a 10% higher risk of death from coronary heart disease than residents in major cities, and those in very remote locations have a 30% higher risk.(2)
Top marks go to the Swedish for showing the way and illustrating the power of mobile incident communication.
We are watching their progress with great interest, as we believe it’s a matter of time until similar schemes are put in place in New Zealand and Australia.
Disclosure of Interest: ThunderMaps are makers of “out-of-the-box” Incident Communication Software similar to the SMSLifesaver system.
(1) Radio Sweden