Care for cardiac arrest patients has received a high-tech upgrade at the Southern Lorain County Ambulance District.
The facility has been using the LUCAS chest compression system since 2015 in two of its three ambulances, which is a mechanized chest compressor that avoids the “human factor” when performing CPR.
That human factor can include transport conditions, worker fatigue, or differences in experience between a new or seasoned EMT. It also frees up rescuers to perform other life-saving functions, according to SLCAD executive director Dave Knapp.
“I don’t have to worry about anyone getting tired doing chest compression anymore,” he said. “When the ambulance is driving quickly down the road, it can throw off a rescuer’s center of gravity, which takes away from the efficiency of the care.”
According to studies, both humans and animals have shown increased blood flow to the brain during CPR administered with LUCAS compared to manual care. The units remain pricey at $10,000 to $15,000, but pay that back in life-saving care that wasn’t previously possible.
These studies also suggest that defibrillation during CPR can improve the outcome of cardiac arrest treatment but it is not recommended when giving manual care.
However, with LUCAS it is possible to defibrillate and compress simultaneously. LUCAS allows for application of the defibrillation electrodes outside the suction cup. Defibrillation during ongoing LUCAS CPR has been used regularly in clinical settings since the unit’s launch in 2003.
“We can put this on a patient in their house and carry them out as LUCAS is giving CPR,” said Knapp. “In the past we had to stop, apply compression, go, then stop again for compression. The unit clamps on to the patient and also supports them underneath their body for maximum efficiency… Their arms are restrained because people who aren’t breathing also don’t have muscle control.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
Jonathan Delozier | Wellington Enterprise EMTs Jen Brasee and Jolene Mahek along with paramedic supervisor Fred Swanson demonstrate the LUCAS chest compression system.