Kingston Fire & Rescue, via the City of Kingston, has issued the below statement regarding its decision to limit the information it provides to the PulsePoint mobile app, first utilized in Kingston in 2015 following a clinical trial in Toronto sponsored by Queen’s University in 2013:
RELEASE — In order to protect the personal privacy of residents and ensure their safety, late last week, Kingston Fire & Rescue (KFR) limited the information it provides to the PulsePoint Foundation, which operates the free mobile application PulsePoint.
“KFR’s number one priority is public safety. Publicizing calls for service in real-time could unnecessarily place members of the public and first responders at-risk,” says Fire Chief Shawn Armstrong.
When implemented on March 23, 2015, this free mobile app was described to Council and the public as a tool that would alert registered users trained to deliver CPR when a cardiac event occurred within 500 metres of them, at a public location.
Over time, it became a platform that notified the community to events such as fires and other scenarios, but this was not its original intent.
“PulsePoint is a tool to assist people who require immediate help for a cardiac event. It was never meant to be used in Kingston as a reporting device for fires or other potential emergencies,” explains Armstrong, noting this information is delivered to media and others in the community via an activity report.
“When calls come in and are dispatched, the reality on the ground may not match the complaint that our KFR communication technicians receive and relay to firefighters. Seeing an inaccurate call come through on PulsePoint could needlessly alarm residents.
“In the event the call is accurate, we want to be respectful of peoples’ privacy and avoid on-lookers arriving to a scene and potentially putting themselves in harm’s way,” says Armstrong.
Fire officials are currently examining how best to deliver accurate and timely information to residents, while reviewing the department’s use of the application.