When someone suffers from a heart attack, time is everything. Joel Griffin learned that first hand.
"Gwyneth was our oldest daughter," he said. "A dancer. Outgoing. Friendly. Had a smile for everyone... She was the rainbow in a lot of people's clouds."
Griffin said that tragedy struck almost five years ago, when his 12-year-old daughter Gwyneth collapsed during a school-sponsored field day. There was a panic, and a scramble to find an AED or someone to give CPR. Ultimately too much time passed before she received help, and she died weeks later from her injuries.
"The question that lingers in our mind," he said. "Is if CPR had been done in a timely manner, would the outcome have been different.
Since that tragic day, Joel and his wife created the Gwyneth's Gift Foundation, which focuses on raising awareness for CPR training. That's why he was thrilled to learn that Stafford County was purchasing a subscription to PulsePoint, a potentially life-saving app.
When set up, PulsePoint will be connected to the dispatch center in Stafford County, and every time a 911 call is made, in regards to cardiac arrest, an alert will be sent out to nearby users. Those that know how to give CPR will sign up for the app, and will be notified if a heart attack is happening nearby.
Importantly, the app also identifies where the AED's are located in the vicinity of the attack. Organizers hope that this will cut down on the amount of confusion in a time of crisis.
"It's essentially like getting a text message," said Chief Mark Lockhart, from the Stafford County Fire and EMS. "Except that it pops up with the location - your location on the map, and shows you the location for the reported call."
A five year subscription to the app was purchased through a $50,000 donation from the Stafford Hospital Foundation. The money was raised through the annual Stafford Hospital Cup, a golf tournament that raises more than $200,000 per year for the community.
"Minutes count..." said Cathy Yablonski, an administrator for the hospital. "To have to tell a family member that they're family member is no longer with them - that's not a conversation anyone wants to have. So being able to have people help us take care of our community, I think is key."
Griffin said he'll never know whether his daughter could have been saved by faster CPR treatment. But he said it would have given her a fighting chance, which is all he wants for others in the community.
"You don't necessarily just need to be a bystander," he said. "You can be involved. You can get the training so that you respond in an emergency."
The PulsePoint app is already being used in many other areas in our region, including Prince William County and Prince George's Count.