Locals are being encouraged to download a free smartphone app alerting registered first aiders to nearby emergencies.
The St John Ambulance WA First Responder app is an Australian-first, sending a notification to qualified users within 500 meters of an emergency incident, allowing them to locate the patient and provide immediate first aid.
The app allows people to dial triple zero, the function automatically sending GPS coordinates of the location to the St John State Operations Centre to assist paramedics in finding the patient.
WA community paramedic Paul Gaughan said the app could combat the delays that can occur in remote areas and mean someone is on the scene within minutes rather than an extended period of time.
“It’s new technology but it’s based on all of the research that we have to date, which really says that those first initial minutes are often the most crucial,” he said.
“The app does all the work for you so, even if you don’t know your location.
“Say you’re a tourist travelling in the area and you don’t know where you are exactly, the app will pinpoint your GPS location and direct emergency services right to that very spot.”
Mr Gaughan said the GPS feature would be especially helpful in emergencies along regional beaches.
“[The beach] may not be on a recognised road so, if you’re 20 kilometers off the track, where do you say you are?” he said.
“If you don’t know where you are then you’ve got to somehow verbalise a mud map and it makes finding the location really difficult but if you’ve got this app and it pinpoints your location, we can get emergency services straight to wherever you are.”
Mr Gaughan said he was glad advances in technology were being used to ensure a higher level of efficiency in responding to emergencies.
Incidents that will trigger an alert on the app include cardiac arrest, burns, and allergic reactions.
St John Ambulance clinical services director Paul Bailey urged those living and working in regional WA to download the app, even if they did not hold a current first aid qualification.
“The First Responder app is a truly lifesaving innovation that dramatically increases a patient’s chance of survival in an emergency,” he said.
“Firstly, the app allows qualified first aiders in the vicinity of a certain incidents to use their training to provide preliminary care while an ambulance is en route.”
Mr Bailey stressed the importance of the GPS feature for those living regionally.
“For all Western Australians, but particularly those in regional WA, this feature is incredibly important as it saves precious time and can make a huge difference in an emergency,” he said.
Dr Bailey said the app, developed in WA, would be effective in providing immediate treatment to people in time critical emergencies.
“We know that if someone suffers a cardiac arrest, for every minute that passes without CPR and defibrillation, their chances of survival decrease by 10 per cent,” he said.
“By enlisting trained first aiders nearby, early intervention can occur as soon as possible, giving that person the best chance of survival.”
The app also lists the location of nearby defibrillators, allowing first responders to retrieve and use a defibrillator where necessary.
St John is raising awareness about the app ahead of international Restart a Heart Day on October 16, which aims to train Australians in life saving CPR skills.
For more information on the First Responder app and St John Ambulance first aid courses available across WA, visit www.stjohnambulance.com.au/first-aid-training/first-aid-courses