New devices perform CPR

By Xiomara Levsen, The JOURNAL


The Washington County Ambulance has a new piece of equipment that will help perform CPR on a patient who isn?t breathing and doesn?t have a pulse.

The county has four Lucas Assist Devices purchased through a grant from the Leona and Harry B. Hensley charitable trust, Washington County Ambulance Director Richard Young said. Each one of the devices costs $15,000.

EMT Trent Olson has worked for Washington County Ambulance for three years. He said this device will take the place of an emergency responder performing CPR.

?Anybody who?s never done CPR manually might not understand fully, but anybody who has will respect this machine because it is a very physically demanding process,? he said. ?If we go to another small town our first responders ? they?re a big help because we have them switching off on just chest compressions because it?s so physically demanding and that leaves us time to do an airway, an IV.?

The chest compressions are also more consistent with the Lucas Assist Device.

?It will do 102 compressions per minute,? Young said. ?It will not slow down.?

People who manually do chest compression get tired very quickly and the chest compression they are applying to the paitient may not be effective, said EMT Brandee Bohr.

?Versus this doesn?t get tired, so it?s continuous,? she added.

A plastic piece is laid under the patient, which the Lucas Assist Device is snapped to, straps are used to keep the patient?s arms up and a suction cup comes down onto the patient?s chest, Young said. A strap is put under the patient?s head and chest compressions will start once the EMT or paramedic activates the device.

?As it [the suction cup] pushes down it comes up,? Young said. ?It lifts the chest up to help fill the heart ? recoil. When we took the instructor class they said they?ve actually had people open their eyes and start looking around when this machine?s running, which can be kind of spooky because they?re dead but the profusion from these machines are so good that they?ve actually had people do that.?

The device calibrates by the patient?s chest depth and will go down 2 to 2 1/2 inches from there, Bohr said.

?It?s not weight-based,? she added. ?It?s size-based. If it doesn?t go all the way down to the chest, then it will kick back and will alarm.?

This tells everyone the person is too big, Young added.

?Then it?s got two different settings on it,? Bohr said, ?like our CPR settings are 30 compressions to two breaths, or like if you have them intubated then it?s continuous compressions.?

Washington County Hospital and Wellman Ambulance also received the Lucas Assist Devices from the same grant. So far no one has had to use it.