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Edgerton Fire Department training with, using mechanical CPR device

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
March 8, 2012
— Edgerton fire officials hope a new piece of equipment they're trying out can help save the lives of heart attack victims mechanically.

The department is training with a LUCAS 2 automatic chest compression device. The device is designed to deliver mechanical chest compressions to heart attack patients in place of manual chest compressions during cardiopulmonary resuscitation.


Dave Fonder, emergency medical services director for the department, said the devices have been around a few years, but Edgerton is the first department in Rock County to try one.


The department would use the device to deliver CPR while emergency technicians are moving a patient with no pulse up or down stairs, into an ambulance, or while the patient is being transported.


At those times, Fonder said, it can be critical to continue CPR, but it can be awkward and difficult for technicians to give manual chest compressions.


"We've seen studies that show that manual chest compressions while you're moving (a patient) become inadequate," Fonder said.


The LUCAS 2 does the work for crew members while they are moving a patient. The device is designed to lock in place around a patient's chest. It operates with a battery-powered, mechanized piston that suctions to the center of a patient's chest and automatically delivers 100 up-and-down chest compressions per minute.


The device is capable of delivering chest-compression-only CPR, the type of CPR used by the department and most other emergency agencies in Rock County. It can be placed on a patient and activated in just 10 seconds, Fonder said.


Department emergency technicians have been training with the device for three weeks, Fonder said, but it hasn't been used in an actual emergency. So far, crew members have only practiced on a CPR mannequin.


During training exercises with the LUCAS 2 this week, Fonder had an EMS technician demonstrate how, without the machine, he'd have to deliver chest compressions manually while lifting a patient into an ambulance.


As he lifted the patient on a stretcher, the technician had to deliver compressions one-handed.


"That's one of the hardest parts of transporting a cardiac patient," Fonder said.


Fonder said the machine wouldn't be used to take the place of manual CPR.


"We don't want to get away from doing manual chest compressions. On scene, we do that well," Fonder said.


Instead, emergency crew members who responded to a heart attack call would begin manual CPR and then start using the machine once they began moving the patient.


Fonder said the LUCAS 2 can free up as many as three emergency responders during a heart attack response, allowing them to assist with other duties, such as readying a stretcher or intravenous drugs, or gathering information from family.


The LUCAS 2 costs about $15,000, but the department has it on loan for 90 days. Fonder said the department hopes to purchase the device.


He said the department is training staff at Edgerton Hospital to use the LUCAS 2, and other emergency departments in the county are keeping a close eye on Edgerton's trial run.



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