Death is one of the scariest realities we as humans have to face. Every year, about 2.5 million people in the US make this terrifying journey. Of those, about 610,000 (or about 1/4) of them will die due to heart disease. Each year, about 735,000 people will have heart attacks. Obviously heart attacks and heart disease are a huge issue, not only in the US, but also across the entire world.
When an individual has a heart attack, every single minute counts; for every minute that goes by without care, a patients chances of dying increase by 10%. After only six minutes without care, cell death in the heart spreads; the loss of oxygen supply to the brain causes cell death there, too. It can take much longer than six minutes for an ambulance to reach those in need of care, though. Traffic conditions and dispatch times can and have resulted in death that was preventable.
So where is all this horribly sad information going? What if there was a way to get ambulances to patients faster? Well, there isn't, but the Karolinska Institute in Sweden has come up with the next best thing. What if every citizen were transformed from helpless bystander to active rescuer? This is the idea of SMSLifesaver. According to one source, more than 90% of adults (and 94% of people under the age of 44) have cell phones. Each of these people has the potential to be a lifesaver with SMSLifesaver. Volunteers trained in CPR techniques receive a phone call telling them that there has been a heart attack in their area. They then receive a text message with the location, along with a link to a map to the location. Within one or two minutes, the volunteer (and sometimes multiple volunteers) are on scene, providing emergency care to the patient. This cuts the time without care from 6-10 minutes down to 1-2 minutes, giving victims a much better chance of survival.
This is truly innovative and has impactful, real-world applications. Right now, the program is only in a trial phase, using only a small city as its test-zone. However, other cities have also begun to implement the idea all over the world. Pulsepoint is the American version, although it is currently quite cluttered; it has information on every single emergency in your area, and is difficult to navigate. Still, it is the beginning of an efficient and effective new technique for dealing with heart attacks.
The "big C" creative(s) behind these ideas have, as far as I can see, remained unnamed. In doing my research, I could not find anything that pointed to one person being the creator. Whoever it may be, their creative capacities will have amazing effects for hundreds if not thousands of people. His or her ideas have already probably saved the lives of many citizens, and that kind of impact is immeasurable. As a pre-med student, these are the ideas that I find truly fascinating, and the ones that I believe really deserve recognition and the utmost respect.