Every year, 475,000 Americans die from cardiac arrest.

More than 350,000 cardiac arrests occur outside the hospital each year. In 2014, nearly 45% of those victims survived because a bystander administered CPR.

Those statistics from the American Heart Association point to the value of CPR certification and the good fortune of being in the right place at the right time.

In an effort to empower more citizens to act in the case of cardiac arrest emergencies, the Brainerd Fire Department is spearheading the rollout of PulsePoint in Crow Wing County.

PulsePoint is a smartphone app that alerts users to cardiac arrest events at public places in their areas and where they can find the nearest automated external defibrillator.

Brainerd Fire Chief Tim Holmes told city council members Monday, Oct. 7, about the year and a half of work that has gone into implementing the project so far.

“Fifty-seven percent of the U.S. population says that they know CPR and that they’re willing to do CPR on an individual that needs, but only 11% said they’ve actually ever used it in an emergency,” Holmes said. “So this app is an opportunity for them to change that.”

The program alerts will go through the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office dispatchers, with the fire department acting as the host.

According to the PulsePoint website, alerts are sent out to PulsePoint users when 911 calls of cardiac arrest emergencies come in. Those who have the app then get the alert, along with the location of the victim and the location of the nearest AEDs, if needed. The aim is for available, trained citizens to step in and help before emergency responders get to the scene.

More than 3,675 communities are connected to PulsePoint, with nearly 1.7 million app users and about 86,000 registered AEDs.

Though it has not yet officially launched in the county, Holmes said he has secured more than the $41,500 required to sustain the program for three years.

The annual cost of the program is $10,500, which covers a yearly subscription, app maintenance and support and training, among other miscellaneous costs. An additional $10,000 is required in the first year for implementation and covers connection installation in the community, configuration, AED registration organization, technical administration training and project management.

Donors and partners thus far include Essentia Health, Baxter Lions Club, BlackRidgeBANK, Brainerd BN Credit Union, Brainerd Sertoma Club, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Crosby Fire Relief Association, Cuyuna Fire Relief Association, Cuyuna Range Medical Center, Initiative Foundation, Ironton American Legion, LifeLink III, Sourcewell and Walmart.

Essentia Health is also willing to match additional donations up to $10,000, which Holmes said the fire department will use to establish a fund to continue paying for the PulsePoint program after the first three years.

If not enough funds are received to keep the program going, Holmes said he will discuss options with the council, such as discontinuing PulsePoint or figuring out another way to secure funds.

Holmes said he will provide more information about PulsePoint to the community in the near future before officially launching the program in Crow Wing County.

For more information on PulsePoint, visit pulsepoint.org/resources.