Transforming How We Respond to Heart Emergencies in the Shenandoah Valley: Teaching, Training, and Technology

In just a fraction of a second, life can take an unexpected turn due to a sudden heart issue. These situations are frightening and often come without any warning, underscoring the urgency of quick response for survival.

The Central Shenandoah EMS Council is taking measures to reduce the time it takes to respond to heart emergencies, aiming to save lives within the community. They’re achieving this through community education, training programs, and advanced emergency response technology.


Understanding Cardiac Arrest: Recognizing Symptoms and Immediate Steps

First, it is important to understand what cardiac arrest is and how to recognize it. This knowledge can empower you to take swift action during a medical emergency.

Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating. Without the heart’s normal rhythm, blood flow to the brain and other organs stops. This lack of blood flow can lead to loss of consciousness and death if not addressed immediately.

Signs and symptoms of cardiac arrest include:

– Loss of consciousness

– Absence of breathing (or gasping)

Responding to Cardiac Arrest: What You Should Do

If you or someone you know is experiencing cardiac arrest, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Call 911 immediately: The first step is to call 911 for help. When you make this call, the 911 center will send Emergency Medical Services to your location. Read further to learn about the latest technology, PulsePoint.


  1. Using AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators): An AED is a user-friendly medical device that can assist someone in cardiac arrest. It evaluates the heart’s rhythm and, if necessary, delivers an electrical shock (defibrillation) to restore a normal heartbeat. While most homes don’t have AEDs, many public places are required to keep them. By downloading the PulsePoint app (more information below), you can locate AEDs nearby.


  1. CPR: If accessing an AED is not possible, performing high quality CPR is the next step. You cannot hurt someone in cardiac arrest with CPR. Doing nothing, however, will likely result in death or permanent brain damage. Dispatchers will walk you through CPR on the phone. In addition to showing AEDs in the area, the PulsePoint app also alerts nearby emergency responders who can administer CPR.


Training Opportunities for the Community

The Central Shenandoah EMS Council takes pride not only in offering resources to local healthcare professionals, but also in training the communities they serve. If you or someone you know is interested in learning First Aid, CPR, and how to use AEDs, reach out today for details on upcoming classes at www.vacpr.org.


PulsePoint’s Response: Speeding Up Heart Emergency Care

Advancements in technology are making an impact not just in hospitals and ERs, but also in local emergency services. The Central Shenandoah EMS Council is on its way to becoming  the first fully connected region in Virginia to utilize PulsePoint, with 3 out of 7 localities currently connected.


What is PulsePoint?

PulsePoint Response is an app that works with 911 communication centers in local communities. It sends information about cardiac arrest cases to nearby emergency response professionals who are verified, allowing them to respond to public and local residences. 

It also alerts laypersons who have been trained in CPR; these responders are only notified of public incidents, not residential.

In either case, a person who receives a notification on their PulsePoint app can click an icon on the app to let dispatchers know that they are responding to assist.


Impact of PulsePoint on You and the Community

PulsePoint’s benefit to you and those around you is its ability to reduce the time it takes to respond to cardiac arrests. For every minute that passes before an ambulance arrives, the chance of survival drops by 10%.

With this new technology linking verified first responders and people in your community  trained in CPR with 911 communications, the emergency response time improves. This ultimately increases the chances of surviving a cardiac arrest episode.

If your business has an AED, please register it on the PulsePoint AED App. Central Shenandoah EMS Council staff or your local Emergency Medical Services Agency can verify your AED and ensure that nearby responders are notified. You can also receive maintenance alerts to ensure your device remains ready for use.

In summary, this article has covered a range of topics: understanding cardiac arrest, recognizing its symptoms, taking immediate action, available First Aid and CPR training, and the integration of PulsePoint with the local communities to save lives in the Shenandoah Valley and surrounding regions.


To download the PulsePoint app, visit this link: https://www.pulsepoint.org/download). Stay tuned each month for educational content and announcements from the Central Shenandoah EMS Council!