26 July 2018
four members of the emergency services holding out phones showing the app

​A smartphone system which alerts the nearest off-duty First Aid trained responders when someone has a cardiac arrest is now being supported by Northamptonshire firefighters.

Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) is the first Fire Service in the country to have signed up in support of the GoodSAM app.

The GoodSAM app triggers alerts to the three closest First Aid trained responders when a 999 call is received for an ambulance, in order to deliver quality CPR until the emergency services arrive.

When a 999 call comes through to East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS), if the symptoms of the patient are likely to indicate a cardiac arrest, the GoodSAM platform is automatically notified. The app uses the location of the patient to identify the nearest responders and asks them to assist. An ambulance is still deployed in the usual way.

These off duty, volunteer responders are signed up because they know how to deliver quality CPR as part of their usual work. They typically include doctors, police, nurses and firefighters.

On scene in seconds

Professor Mark Wilson, neurosurgeon and no-founder of GoodSAM said: “If a patient has a cardiac arrest, it is the first few minutes after the incident that determine the outcome – life, death, or long-term brain injury. In this time frame, we could never employ enough paramedics to be on scene in seconds – hence we need to alert people with the skills in the surrounding few hundred metres.

“GoodSAM can revolutionise our ability to get to the patient immediately and improve outcomes. Harnessing the community for the benefit of the community, this is an entirely voluntary system. GoodSAM responders can either accept or reject the request, depending on whether they are available at the time. If the request is rejected it will be passed on to the next nearest responder until the ambulance arrives.”

The GoodSAM app has been running for three years and EMAS issued 13,000 alerts last year. A GoodSAM responder arrived on scene in 56 per cent of cases (7,280). Of these, 1500 were cardiac arrests for which CPR could be performed. 

Lifesaving expertise

NFRS Group Commander Mick Conlon said: “GoodSAM works by deploying people who are not at work but nevertheless carry around the lifesaving expertise that could really help someone who has a cardiac arrest - if they happen to be nearby at the time.

“How many times have people suffered cardiac arrests and had to wait for CPR to be administered after the arrival of an ambulance crew, when someone in the next street away may have been qualified to help them?

“We are busy signing up NFRS responder volunteers to the app as so many firefighters are keen to use their professional medical skills to help save lives, whether on or off duty.”