Committee Mulling Life-Saving Smartphone App

Chicago Alds. Ed Burke and James Balcer on Tuesday sat before the City Council's Public Safety Committee and asked them to consider embracing technology that could save the lives of those having a heart attack.

They got the idea from a video showing off a smartphone application that can notify users trained in CPR that someone nearby is under cardiac arrest.

"In the first few minutes of cardiac arrest or sudden cardiac death, those are the key few minutes, and really, bystanders who are trained in how to do chest compressions are really helping their fellow citizens," said Northwestern University's Dr. Amer Aldeen.

Roughly 40,000 people in San Ramon, Calif., have downloaded the application, called Fire Department. While popular and helpful, creating and implementing a similar app for Chicago could turn costly and complicated.

During its testimony to the committee, the Office of Emergency Management and Communications pointed out what it might cost to make the app work with its computer-aided dispatch system.

"The cost of that integration -- not the mobile app itself -- but the CAD integration, would be in the $650,000 range, or more," said OEMC's Jonathan Lewin.

Still, Balcer stressed the cost was worth it.

"No one wants to go through anyone dying of a heart attack. If we can help that person stay alive, I think that's so important," he said.

Chicago's safety committee will meet again in 60 days to discuss the possibility of implementing a similar application in Chicago.

Fire Department App - PSA from Fire Department on Vimeo.

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