“Staying Alive”, the app that geolocates rescuers ready to intervene

“Staying Alive”, the app that geolocates rescuers ready to intervene

Suddenly, a person collapses, suffering from cardiac arrest. Barely enough time to call 112 when a volunteer rescuer, geolocated nearby thanks to a French application, appears to carry out life-saving actions, while waiting for the firefighters or emergency services to arrive.

This is the principle of “Staying Alive”, a mobile application made available to emergency services in 80 French departments and deployed in particular in Lot-et-Garonne, a pioneer in its use since 2017.

In total, 300,000 “Good Samaritans” likely to intervene in the event of an accident have registered in the application, including 90% in Europe.

In the suburbs of Agen, an operator from the Departmental Fire and Rescue Service (Sdis 47) receives an emergency call. “We have a cardiac arrest in Foulayronnes!“, says this firefighter to his Samu colleagues, to trigger the dispatch of a medical vehicle (Smur).

Then he tries to reassure his interlocutor: “The firefighters are engaged. We have two Good Samaritans on the public highway, I trigger them” he said, clicking on the card to activate the two corresponding phones.

Marie Gonella was herself “triggered” in 2021 to save a septuagenarian in front of the town hall of Fleurance (Gers).

Survival rate doubled

When I arrived, the person was arrested, lying on a bench“, the 25-year-old young woman, a gendarmerie reservist, told AFP.

I massaged until the firefighters and Smur arrived and took over. It lasted about ten minutes. It was very long…

The victim’s heart starts again. But the man, ill and already hospitalized previously, died a few days later.

Same scenario for Lucas Gomez, 20, who was watching a movie at home in December when the application asked him to go to a nearby restaurant where a sixty-year-old was choking on food.

I was in my pajamas, I went all out“, says this student nurse, volunteer firefighter in Fumel (Lot-et-Garonne).

Because every minute counts. “The Good Samaritans arrive in less than two or three minutes“compared to around 15 minutes for emergency services, notes Colonel Xavier Pergaud, deputy director of Sdis 47. A “strategic” delay to “save the vital organs and in particular the oxygenation of the brain”, he notes.

A 2020 scientific study, conducted using data compiled by Paris firefighters, shows a cardiac arrest survival rate of 16%. It jumps to 35% when a volunteer rescuer, mobilized thanks to the application, intervenes immediately.

Created in 2010, Staying Alive was initially intended to map defibrillators.

Ten years ago, the concept became more ambitious: “real-time” geolocation of volunteers trained in first aid – without recording their location to preserve privacy.


Other applications appear: SAUV Life, Permis de Sauver, AFPR (French Association of First Responders)…

In Lot-et-Garonne, some 1,500 volunteers are registered on Staying Alive, but 5,000 would be needed to cover the territory, notes Xavier Pergaud.

Sdis 47 therefore highlights the application during its first aid training sessions.

In mid-February, in Nérac (Lot-et-Garonne), around ten childcare workers perform a massage on mannequins on the ground.

Keep the pace! Sing the Bee Gees song! Ah, ah, ah, ah, Stayin’ Alive“, chants Corporal Mathilde Bourdon, who has come to train them.

The cadence of the disco tube corresponds in fact to that of a cardiac massage, at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute.

Being a Good Samaritan is altruism. We want to help, be there for others“, pleads Mathilde Bourdon.

In Europe, a volunteer first aider is “triggered” every 20 minutes during the day, or more than 50,000 triggers since 2018, boasts the Le Bon Samaritain foundation, which develops the Staying Alive application.

The structure works by finding patrons, such as La Poste or Maif. She has a budget of 250,000 euros per year, which she would like to double to better support volunteers.

Good Samaritans intervene, save lives, people talk about it, the media talks about it, and it creates a virtuous circle“, summarizes Laurent Istria, responsible for the development of Good Samaritan, who hopes to convince other French departments, or even other countries, to equip themselves.