Emergency Phone Apps - Cardiograph
As a Public Speaker on Emergency Preparedness and Red Cross trained responder, I jumped into action on the public streetcar the other day when a woman collapsed. Using my Cardio phone app I was able to monitor her heart rate to help determine if she was having a heart attack before just helping her up. She seemed comforted by my just taking the time to talk with her and let her know my level of concern by using the Cardio app which beeps a heart monitor sound and which she seemed to recognize by the squeeze of her hand. Turns out she didn't speak English, but she held onto my hand until we were able to get the streetcar to stop and get her some additional help. She thanked me in Japanese as she was helped away.
I don't know Betsy, but I checked out the app. On my Samsung Galaxy it worked with varying accuracy, and it is not all that useful. In the hospital and in the back of an ambulance, I routinely see purpose-built monitors costing hundreds of dollars have difficulty finding a pulse on a truly ill patient, so thinking that a camera phone and LED light will be accurate at all is a big stretch.
Really, we should step back and look at what the app does. It counts heart rate...poorly. Anyone who has taken First Aid or CPR should be able to count a pulse with much better accuracy. In addition, the app makes a beeping sound and draws a phony EKG tracing. This is ridiculous! And if anyone thinks a beeping noise and a squiggly line is some sort of miracle, well...I don't know. I worry that someone might end up with a false sense of security due to this pseudo medical app. As I said before, all it does is count a pulse...poorly!
In the described situation, it is possible that the woman had a bradycardia or slow heart rate. In that case, the app (or physically and accurately taking a pulse) could help a trained responder begin to get to the root of the problem. But the fact that a phone app made a beeping sound should in no way be the diagnostic parameter that determines whether or not to stand a patient up after a syncopal episode. Thankfully, Betsy had the presence of mind to leave the woman lying on the floor until trained personnel arrived.
In my humble opinion, if someone passes out near you, use your phone to call 911. If you want to be prepared to do more, take a First Aid and/or CPR course. But please don't delude yourself or your "patient" into thinking that a beeping phone with a fake EKG is any sort of appropriate or useful tool, or a substitute for trained, professional intervention.