Marketplace: Be ready to save a life with a phone
August 20, 2010
Parkite Erik Hutchins remembers falling asleep as a child hearing a robotic voice repeating, "Press, press, press, blow."
Almost like a movie cliché, Hutchins’ father was an inventor who spent years of his life and a significant amount of money developing a product in his garage.
Only it didn’t have a happy ending.
His father was creating the CPR Prompt. It was a wall-mounted unit that people already trained in CPR could turn on in the case of an emergency and be voice prompted on the correct rhythm for chest compressions and breaths.
The correct administration of CPR differs depending on the age of the victim and nature of the breathing impairment. The more appropriately the correct maneuvers are given in an emergency, the higher the rate of survival, he said.
Unfortunately, the CPR Prompt retailed for around $200 too much for the average consumer in the 1980s. Even though he saw his idea realized into a physical product and developed new innovations in digital voice recording, "his dreams and investments are gone down the drain," Hutchins explained.
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"For all intents and purposes it failed," he said.
Then in 2009, Hutchins heard a radio news report about the proliferation of iPhone applications. It was then he realized his father’s invention could be converted into an affordable and potentially-life saving app.
It took a full year to develop, but using the 2005 CPR guidelines from the American Red Cross and American Heart Association, he recorded the appropriate voice prompts and sells it for $3.99 per download.
He likens the program to "Choose Your Own Adventure." During an emergency, the user selects the app on an iPhone, iTouch or iPad, then selects the victim’s age, then notifies the program of how many people are assisting, then selects the conditions under which the rescue is occurring.
It takes about 20 seconds. That may sound like a lot, but that’s nothing in the long-run to optimize the efficiency of the CPR, he said.
After the 20 seconds a voice begins the instructions reminding the user how to get started and then prompts compressions in the correct rhythm for the conditions.
If the experts revise the procedures, it just takes a few revisions of the code to reprogram. His father would have had to recreate the computer chips at a cost of about a quarter of a million dollars, he said.
The app cannot replace proper CPR training, he said, but training we don’t use fades. Parents plug electrical outlets to be on the safe side; Hutchins believes every parent should carry a CPR prompt as well.
It’s also perfect for restaurants, movie theaters, schools, ski patrols, boat captains and flight attendants. Anyone who has a reasonable but infrequent expectation to perform CPR could benefit, he said.
"If you’ve never been in this situation before, this is how to get through it calmly," he said. "It provides peace of mind. You know you’re prepared."
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