CPR text alerts save Spokane boy's life

Pulse Point is an app that sends text alerts when someone in the area needs CPR. 

SPOKANE, Wash. – It was a Friday afternoon at a local dance store when a customer with a newborn baby cried out.

“I was just sitting at the computer, I think answering emails or some information,” said Lesley Reckord, an employee at the store. “Then I heard a woman suddenly, frantically saying, ‘He’s not breathing, someone call 911.’”

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Baby Nolan’s mother, Karen Garrison, was almost paralyzed with fear.

“Everything was just going so fast. I don’t know CPR, I had no idea how to do it,” said Garrison.

A block and a half away, Jeff Olson was elbow-deep in a car repair, when his phone made a loud, strange noise.

“I looked down and it said CPR needed and I went, ‘Oh, that’s a Pulse Point,’” said Olson.

Pulse Point is a phone app that alerts people when a 911 call for CPR has been placed in their area. Often, nearby citizens can get there faster than EMS personnel.

The Spokane Fire Department and partner agencies were among the first in the nation to tie the app into the dispatch system and take advantage of this area’s culture of volunteerism and willingness to help.

“So, the fire chiefs a few years ago got together and recognized the platform. We had to extend our reach into the community with Pulse Point,” said Assistant Fire Chief, Brian Shaeffer. “And then we had the opportunity with our culture in Spokane, that really was a good fit.”

Olson signed up for the app because, as a volunteer EMT, he is trained in CPR. When Pulse Point told Olson CPR was needed just around the corner, he did not hesitate.

“Yeah, I didn’t even let my boss know that I was leaving. Just like, ‘Gotta hurry, gotta hurry,’ and I ran out and said ‘I’ll be back,’” said Olson.

Reckord said the door suddenly flew open and a man came in asking if someone called 911 and needed CPR. She said Olson then picked up the baby.

“He was really, really blue. So, I just started doing some rescue breathing for him. And it seemed like an eternity and the ambulance got there and the fire truck got there at the same time,” said Olson. “And I walked the baby out to the medic and as soon as I handed the baby off, the baby started crying and we both looked at each other and said, ‘That’s a good sign,’” said Olson.

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Today, Nolan is an active, smiling toddler. He has a rare kidney condition. A complication of that probably caused him to stop breathing that day.

Because Jeff Olson was signed up for Pulse Point alerts and trained in CPR, Nolan is doing well.

“I am eternally grateful to him. If he wouldn’t have been there, I don’t know what would have happened,” said Garrison. “I am so grateful for him, and him just being there.”

Baby Nolan’s hero did not wear a cape, but a mechanic’s uniform with his name above the pocket and his cell phone inside.