Ill. Firefighter-Paramedics Improve Patient Outcomes with Lucas CPR Device

Ill. Firefighter-Paramedics Improve Patient Outcomes with Lucas CPR Device

News Oct 07, 2017

Oct. 06—Elgin firefighter-paramedics already have used a new piece of state-of-the art life-saving equipment the department received this week.

Fire Lt. Michael Oine said that a Lucas Chest Compression System—designed to provide provide consistent, high-quality mechanical chest compressions that meet the American Heart Association standards for rate, depth and speed during CPR —was used on a call on the west side Wednesday night.

"This is one of the better enhancements we've had in in recent years," Oine said. "This represents a landmark improvement in patient care."

This summer, the City Council approved the purchase of five of the devices from Michigan-based Stryker for $79,400, with $7,400 of the money coming from the Fire Department's capital budget and the rest coming from a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant. Stryker is the owner of Washington-based Physio-Control, which makes the product.

Each of the fire department's five frontline ambulances now have the devices, firefighter Arend Johnson said.

Using a special mannequin, Elgin firefighters Thursday morning demonstrated how the Lucas device works. Once a paramedic starts CPR, other paramedics then lift the torso so that the bottom part of the device is under the patient's back. The curved bars holding the compression-giving plunger are placed so that the plunger is above the sternum to do its job, applying consistent chest compressions at 102 beats per minute.

The machine adjusts pressure applied to the size of the patient and sends a signal after 30 seconds that it is time for a paramedic to give the patient oxygen, Lt. Chris Kennedy said.

Kennedy noted that the Elgin Fire Department had more primitive versions of the compression devices back in the 1970s, but had nothing like them again until a trial period the department had testing high tech models this year.

"With these devices, the chances of giving someone a chance are greatly improved," Kennedy said.

Elgin Fire Department members field tested two different units prior to deciding on the Lucas model, Fire Chief Dave Schmidt said.

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Firefighter-paramedic Anthony McMeel spearheaded the effort to get the new equipment. He said that all Elgin firefighters were trained on both models, with both also used in the field. The Lucas System was picked because of its simple design and ease of use, McMeel said.

"In most cases it only takes about 8 seconds to get the Lucas device in place," McMeel said.

The device allows firefighters to keep CPR going while a patient is on a stretcher and while the patient is being moved, even up or down stairs, the firefighters noted. Using them means more safety for paramedics while moving patients and while in ambulances. Now all can wear a seat belt while chest compressions are being applied by the battery-operated machine.

The systems also are Bluetooth enabled so that they can transmit the data they collect to the department's computer system and to the hospital to which a patient is being taken, Oine said.

The idea for purchasing the systems came from a recommendation from the department's internal EMS committee on which McMeel serves. The process for obtaining the Lucas devices took about two years, he said.

"Anthony did a ton of heavy lifting on the project," Schmidt said. "He was really the workhorse behind bringing these forward and rolling them out."

Schmidt said Lt. Josh Smith wrote the grant, Oine is the lieutenant in charge of EMS and that Kennedy oversees training and quality assurance for EMS, so he was able to provide the data on the success of the devices.

According to Schmidt, statistics show that each year in the United States, more than 300,000 individuals suffer non-traumatic, out-of-hospital, sudden cardiac arrest, which has been the leading cause of death in adults over 40. The Elgin Fire Department responds to about 56 cardiac arrest incidents annually, he said.

Kennedy, Oine and McMeel said getting the devices also shows the value of sending firefighters to conferences and conventions. McMeel first spotted the Lucas devices at the EMS World Expo in New Orleans in 2016, Kennedy said.

Through networking at the conference, McMeel said he learned that West Palm Beach Fire Rescue was using the equipment, and Elgin was able to obtain hard data from there about how the Lucas device was performing in the field.


The Courier-News, Elgin, Ill.
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