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Recently, the State of Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services EMS Program applied for and received a nearly $6 million grant to provide potentially lifesaving devices to 359 ambulance services and 82 rural hospitals. This device is the LUCAS 2, which is a CPR compression machine. As part of this grant, the city of Beatrice’s Fire and Rescue Department is going to receive three LUCAS 2 machines. The main reason we are getting three is due to our high call volume. By the nature of probability, we will be more likely to use the device with us responding to well over 2,000 medical calls annually.

This device has the potential of being a game changer when it comes to a witnessed cardiac arrest. Currently, the odds of survival of a witnessed cardiac arrest are only 10 percent. Now, due to recent advancements in medicine, training and medical equipment, there are areas in the nation where the survival rate exceeds 50 percent. These pocket success rates are tied to a couple of key components. One of the most important first steps, a bystander starting CPR, is critical. In a community where people will step up and help by starting compressions early, critical seconds are bought to give the patient a fighting chance. Currently Public Health Solutions is working on a campaign to bring better awareness and training to the public for bystander CPR.

Another key step is getting this patient to the hospital as quickly as possible. This is where the LUCAS 2 device will play an important role. There are medical research reports showing that the use of an automated compression device allows emergency responders, like our Paramedics and EMTs, to safely extend CPR times to increase the odds of survival for the patient.

The act of chest compressions is very strenuous and labor intensive. The current standard for chest compressions is 100 good compressions in one minute. A single person keeping up this pace for the entire response is something that is not realistic; they will become physically exhausted in a short period of time. What is done with most ambulance services is that the person doing compressions periodically will switch out. However, due to limited number of emergency responders at any given time, there will be a small supply of people to do this.

Another factor in chest compressions is transport times. Beatrice Fire and Rescue has the possibility of responding to any location in the county. So we easily could see transport times, from the incident scene to the hospital, anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes or higher. Another advantage of a compression device is that chest compressions will not be halted while moving a patient down stairs or in tight doorways.

This grant will improve the chance of survival during a witnessed cardiac arrest event and increase emergency provider safety. My understanding is that in September we will take part in training of the device and we will receive the LUCAS 2 devices shortly after that.

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