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August 03, 2017 06:09 PM

Fire Department's Verified Responder Program Gains Momentum

Off-duty firefighters are stepping up to save lives, and so far, it is working.  Earlier this summer, Sioux Falls Fire Rescue announced its part of the Verified Responder Program.  Even when they are not working, men and women within the department will get an alert through the PulsePoint app to respond to sudden cardiac arrest calls within walking distance.  

When you look at the portable AEDs the department uses for the program, you will see it is just a little box.

"This is the jump kit for the Verified Responder Program," Jeremy Robertson said, EMS Educator for Sioux Falls Fire Rescue, said. 

You will find it in the hands of firefighters,  so they can help your heart.

"If I was sitting out on my back patio and I had a verified responder that my neighbor was in cardiac arrest, this is our quick action," Robertson said. 

Since launching in June, the program has led to verified responders saving five people in sudden cardiac arrest.  

"I'm so proud of that.  They are in the same boat as the rest of us.  We want to make an impact in our community whether we're on the job or off the job," Jeff Helm, Division Chief, said. 

Helm says this is a great resource to the community, because 85% of cardiac arrest calls come from inside someone's home.  Though Helm says calling 911 is still essential, utilizing PulsePoint and the Verified Responder Program increases the odds of getting help to the person even faster. 

"Time is what damages the heart.  If you can get a resource there quicker with the right equipment, such as an AED and a first responder who lives in that neighborhood, you can see the impact," Helm said. 

As the program continues, Helm expects more good outcomes.  Firefighters do a lot to help the community, and Helm says utilizing this technology is one more way to think outside of the box to help save lives. 

"We're on that cutting edge of that and we're proud to be part of that and our community should be proud of that," Helm said. 

Sioux Falls is only the second community to enroll in this pilot program.  Helm says if the results continue to be good, the city will likely help shape how Verified Responder works for other departments in other cities.

You can also download the PulsePoint app.  It is free for Apple and Android devices. 

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