In An Emergency, This Service Texts The Nearest CPR-Certified People

Stockholm-based SMSLifesaver was created in response to the challenge of delivering timely ambulance services. CPR certification is the only requirement for volunteering. So far 9,600 residents have signed up.

What's the Latest Development?

Stockholm residents who call the Swedish equivalent of 911 for a cardiac emergency can now expect a much faster response, thanks to a service called SMSlivräddare (SMSLifesaver) that sends a text message to all registered volunteers whose home addresses are within 500 meters of the call's location. Often, the volunteer reaches the victim before the ambulance (or police or firefighters), saving valuable minutes of response time. So far, 9,600 citizens are signed up as volunteers, all of them certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

What's the Big Idea?

Ambulance services in Sweden's capital city suffer from a number of problems, says SMSLifesaver spokesperson Dr. Mårten Rosenqvist: "First there are not so many, second there is heavy traffic in Stockholm, and third, they are usually occupied by doing other things." In the decade since officials began addressing this problem using a variety of different approaches including SMSLifesaver, survival rates for victims of cardiac arrest have risen from three percent to almost 11 percent. Unlike similar programs elsewhere, volunteers do not need emergency medical technician (EMT) training in order to participate: An estimated 200,000 Swedes have completed CPR training and could become volunteers themselves.

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