"These notifications will only be made if the victim is in a public place and only to potential rescuers who are in the immediate vicinity of the emergency," San Ramon Valley Fire Department Chief Richard Price said.
If someone in the San Ramon Valley calls 911 to report a person in cardiac arrest an alert will be transmitted to nearby iPhone users trained in CPR. Using the iPhone's GPS, the alert will direct the citizen responder to the person in distress. It will also transmit the location of the nearest portable defibrillator.
"It's a matter of life and death," Mary Beth Michos, Deputy Associate Director of the Intl. Association of Fire Chiefs, said. "Time is muscle and when somebody has a cardiac arrest the faster we can get CPR and defibrillation to their heart, we can actually save that heart from undergoing further damage."
Joe Farrell once saved someone's life with his CPR training. A year later, he went into cardiac arrest.
"Fortunately people there knew CPR, performed CPR right away and paramedics came within 5 or 8 minutes and I next remember waking up in a hospital five days later," he said.
While San Ramon Valley pioneered the technology, other departments around the country are looking at it too.
"I think it's cutting edge," software promoter Tim O'Reilly said. "I think there are some real challenges to getting it spread because there's a lot of data that's local here, for instance where are the defibrillators."
At the moment, the CPR app is only available on the iPhone, but software designers are working to make it available on other devices, like the Blackberry and the Android.