Could a 160 character SMS save your life? Well a new study has revealed that a single text message to a mobile phone could nearly double your survival rate if you suffered a sudden cardiac arrest out of hospital.
The study revealed that an SMS alert system can dramatically boost survival rates from a cardiac arrest – where a person has stopped breathing and lost heart function. The system works by having trained volunteers in the community being notified of a cardiac arrest near-by. These volunteers then respond to the emergency providing CPR and defibrillation where required, before the arrival of paramedics.
The Dutch system has over 61,000 volunteers spread throughout the country, all trained in basic life support (CPR) and the use on an automated external defibrillation (AED). After a Triple 0 call is received, dispatchers then notify via SMS, all volunteers located within a one kilometre radius of the victim.
In the two years from 2012-2014, the Dutch province of Limburg had 422 cases where the text message system was activated. Of these 422 emergencies, 69% of times one or more of these life-saving volunteers responded. The results showed that when a cardiac arrest occurred and a volunteer didn’t respond, only 16% of casualties were surviving. But when one or more volunteers did respond, the survival rates jumped substantially up to 27%.
The findings of this study highlight the potential that a text-message alert system could have for Australia. Over 30,000 cardiac arrests occur annually and if similar success rates to the Dutch system were achieved, this could mean an additional 3000 people could be saved every year.