When someone has a cardiac arrest, their chance of survival decreases by 10 percent for every minute that passes before they receive treatment. Additionally, brain damage can occur after just four minutes. That's why the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) has created an app that finds civilians who are trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and gets them to the location of cardiac arrest victims minutes before emergency services arrive.

According to EHRA, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is currently administered by bystanders in approximately 30 to 60 percent of cardiac arrests that occur outside of a hospital. The hope is that once the First Responder App is well-established, that rate could rise to 70 to 90 percent.

Here's how it works …

People who are trained in CPR initially use the app to register their willingness to help out in an emergency. They then carry their phone with them, running the app, as they're out and about.

When a person subsequently suffers a cardiac arrest and emergency services is called, the operator immediately dispatches a conventional emergency crew to the victim's location, but then also uses the app to notify "app rescuers" who are in that area. The first one to respond receives directions to the location, where they begin administering CPR.

The system has already been tested in Lübeck, Germany, where a social media campaign resulted in approximately 600 CPR-trained volunteers being recruited. In 36 percent of cardiac arrest events, an app rescuer arrived over three minutes before emergency services did.

Emergency dispatch units across Germany are now being encouraged to connect to the app, which should ultimately be rolled out across Europe.

Sources: European Society of Cardiology, First Responder App