Millennials Take Health Seriously

Willamette University Students Use PulsePoint

By Patrick Loftus and Forrest Smith, Willamette University Class of 2018
The Salem Fire Foundation is teaming up with Willamette University students to bring a life-saving app to campus. The campaign aims to get college students to download PulsePoint, an app that improves response time to victims of sudden cardiac arrest.

PulsePoint is a free application for mobile phones that alerts CPR trained individuals to sudden cardiac arrests and other medical emergencies in their vicinity. It was invented by an off-duty firefighter who noticed a fire truck come rushing into the parking lot of where he was eating lunch. He learned that someone in the business next door had a heart attack and wished that he had known earlier so he could have performed CPR. PulsePoint uses GPS location to send notifications to a user’s cellphone whenever there is an emergency within ¼ mile of their current location. It runs in the background and is always active, so citizen heroes can be alerted to emergencies nearby. The goal is to get CPR administered before a fire truck or ambulance arrives, because for every minute that goes by during sudden cardiac arrest, a person’s survival rate decreases by 10 percent.

College students are a demographic that PulsePoint can rely on because they are likely to have cell phones with them all day or most of the day. In addition, a recent informal survey showed that 40 percent of Willamette students are already CPR certified. Those who aren’t can take CPR classes on campus or learn directly from the PulsePoint app. Willamette students value the close-knit community on campus and PulsePoint gives them an opportunity to protect these important community members.

“I wanted to download the app because I want to do whatever I can to help somebody who is in need of CPR,” Willamette junior Matt Linvill says. “I also want to put what I’ve learned in my CPR class to use so that I can become a better responder.”

The Salem Fire Foundation is bringing PulsePoint to Willamette University to make the campus safer. Willamette students are excited to use the app to benefit the entire community instead of just themselves individually. On campus, there will be posters and location-specific social media posts to promote app use. At CPR training courses on campus, students will be encouraged to download PulsePoint to put their newfound knowledge to use. Willamette students are realizing that sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at any time, even their fellow college students.

Salem already has over 5,000 PulsePoint downloads and Willamette students are adding to this number. The students frequent the downtown area and many upperclassmen live off campus, so the benefits of the app reach further than campus. Willamette students are serious about helping the Salem community, as demonstrated by the 150,000 hours of community service logged in the 2015-2016 school year. By promoting an app with life-saving capabilities to an active group of people who truly care about their community, Salem becomes a safer place overall.

Willamette Graduate and Executive Director of the Salem Fire Foundation, Mary Louise VanNatta said, “The research and work done by these students on PulsePoint will be able to be translated into the entire Salem community.”

To download PulsePoint Respond for free, visit and select the Salem Fire Department. Receiving the alerts is optional. For more information about the Salem Fire Foundation