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GoodSAM helps patients in cardiac arrest

GoodSAM helps patients in cardiac arrest
Monday, 23 April 2018

Ambulance services activate an app so that registered users with CPR training are alerted when someone nearby needs their help.

More than 1500 people trained in CPR are registered with a new smartphone app that alerts them when somebody nearby is in cardiac arrest.

The GoodSAM (Good Smartphone Activated Medics) app is embedded into the St John and Wellington Free Ambulance emergency ambulance dispatch systems.

When an ambulance dispatcher gets a call about someone in suspected cardiac arrest, an alert is sent to GoodSAM, which then finds and alerts the closest three potential responders in the area.

Only those within 1000 metres of the patient are alerted and people can choose to accept or reject the alert. If they do not accept, the app will search for more people.

St John medical director Tony Smith says outcomes from cardiac arrest are dramatically improved when a patient receives immediate CPR and defibrillation within the first few minutes. Emergency services can’t always arrive that quickly, but it is likely that someone who knows CPR and how to use a defibrillator is nearby and able to help.

In New Zealand about 2000 people per year are treated for cardiac arrest and only approximately 15 per cent survive. For every minute without CPR or defibrillation, survival decreases by 10 per cent.

Ambulance service staff have been using the app since last December and medical professionals have been coming online over the past fortnight. Around 1500 responders are now registered with GoodSAM and Smith is keen for that number to increase.

The app is being activated around 10–12 times a day and Smith is looking for that number to grow.

“We’ve already had a number of incidents where staff were first on the scene and started CPR prior to the emergency services arriving,” he tells “It’s absolutely made a difference.”

The app was developed in London and has been implemented by ambulance services around the world.

“The more people who download the app, the more coverage we will achieve across New Zealand, and the more likely we are to improve outcomes from cardiac arrest,” says Smith.

The app is available on the Google, Apple and Microsoft app stores. Further information is available at


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