Saving lives with the mobile phone

When a person experiences cardiac arrest, every minute reduces the chance of survival by ten percent. Thanks to a network of voluntary SMSlifesavers (SMSlivräddare), who are trained to do CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), and mobile positioning technology, lives can be saved.

Each year, as many as 900 inhabitants of Stockholm who are not in hospital experience cardiac arrest.  On average, it takes 13 minutes in Stockholm for an ambulance to arrive on the scene. Each minute reduces the chance of survival by ten percent, which means that most victims do not survive.

“At the same time, two million people in Sweden are trained to do CPR. This means a colossal waste of both lives and competence," says David Fredman, hospital nurse at the cardiological clinic of Södersjukhuset (Stockholm South General Hospital) and leader of the SMSlifesavers project.

More victims can survive

The SMSlifesavers project was launched in May 2010. The aim is for people with CPR skills to arrive on the scene before an ambulance arrives and can take over. This makes it possible for more victims of cardiac arrest to survive. At first, the project covered only the city centre of Stockholm, but since November 2011 it has covered the whole Stockholm County.

At present, 5,800 people in the Stockholm County with CPR skills have registered as SMSlifesavers. When a SOS Alarm Centre receives an alarm about a suspected cardiac arrest, they can find out the SMSlifesavers who are within 500 metres from the victim. This is made possible by mobile positioning technology. On average, 15 people receive an SMS with the address and a map and even an automatic telephone call informing that they have received a message from SMSlifesavers.

Efforts that save lives

“In 40 percent of the cases, our SMSlifesavers have arrived on the scene before the ambulance and have been able to start CPR. This is an extremely good figure. The evaluation has not been completed, but we can assume that our efforts have saved lives. What is really magnificent is that our SMSlifesavers participate in the project without any compensation – just to help other people," says David Fredman.

Several counties in Sweden and even Norway and Denmark have expressed their interest in the SMSlifesaver system.

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