Information on Pulse Point app creates controversy with DC's first responders

A new app to help first responders is creating a bit of controversy. This comes after FOX 5 began asking questions about the Pulse Point app and the information it was putting out.

The intention and design of Pulse Point is to get immediate help to people suffering from cardiac arrest. For example, if you are trained in CPR and are in the vicinity of an emergency, your phone will buzz or beep and give you the exact address.

But D.C. firefighters soon noticed that minutes were going by between the time when Pulse Point said help was being sent and when the calls were actually dispatched.

On Thursday afternoon, we listened, and on average, there was a difference in time of two to three minutes. In one emergency, we clocked at least four minutes that went by.

Earlier in the day at a news conference to bring attention to the app, the director of the 911 center said there was no difference between the time on the app and the time firefighters got the call.

However, a little over an hour later, the D.C.’s fire chief acknowledged there was a time gap and the policy would change.

"When the new technology came in, there was a decision made by the department as well as the Office of Unified Communications that they would allow the information to go to Pulse Point as the dispatcher finalized the call with the caller,” said D.C. Fire and EMS Chief Gregory Dean.

However, that created confusion with firefighters who were seeing the information on Pulse Point, but not immediately getting the call.

"It has created some challenges because our members are hearing it and they think, ‘Should we go? Should we go?’” said Dean. “And they can’t self-dispatch. So we are going to place it in line and Pulse Point will get the information at the same time that our members get it so there is no confusion in the field.”

The national standard is 60 seconds between the time of the first 911 call and help being sent to the scene. With what we saw on Pulse Point, is that standard being met?

"It’s going to take some time we understand to vet those calls,” said Dabney Hudson, president of the D.C. Firefighters Union. “We just want to make sure they fall within the standard.”

It is unclear how quickly city officials will make that policy change with the Pulse Point app.

But a bigger question is if the Office of Unified Communications is meeting the national standards. FOX 5 will be following up on this.

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