White Oak EMS obtains life-saving equipment
By Michael DiVittorio
Published: Friday, May 3, 2013, 1:31 a.m.
The latest piece of equipment acquired by White Oak EMS is helping to save the lives of those suffering from cardiac arrest.
LUCAS — Lund University Cardiac Arrest System — is a portable chest compression system that delivers automated, American Heart Association guidelines-consistent chest compressions to improve blood flow in cardiac arrest patients.
It performs at a rate of 100 compressions per minute with a depth of at least 2 inches.
LUCAS also has a 30-compression cycle that allows a few seconds to ventilate a person before repeating.
White Oak prehospital registered nurse Kristoffer Anderson said the device is designed to help eliminate fatigue from doing manual cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and allow medical staff to tend to other immediate needs of the patient.
White Oak's LUCAS was acquired through Physio-Control Inc.
Company senior sales representative and former Medical Reserve Team South paramedic Raymond Carlin said the previous assembly was powered by air tanks.
The new model runs on a rechargeable lithium polymer battery and is adjustable to any CPR guideline changes.
White Oak EMS has 24 employees including 11 EMTs, nine paramedics and three prehospital registered nurses, all of whom are trained on the device.
“They have a minimal interruption going from manual CPR to CPR using the LUCAS device,” Carlin said. “It's really quick and easy to put on as you can see ... It's hard doing good compressions, and yet that's what's going to save the person's life.”
Carlin noted LUCAS helps responders in the ambulance.
“Not only are you ineffective hanging on with one hand and doing compressions with the other, but you're also not safe,” Carlin said. “You're not seat belted in. This makes them safe ... It allows these guys to focus on what else is going on here.”
The technology was developed by Sweden-based Jolife AB, which later was bought by Physio-Control Inc.
White Oak is one of eight ambulance services in Western Pennsylvania that has LUCAS.
“It's an expensive device,” Anderson said. “There's no state funding to help us buy these. They're usually purchased through grants provided through local organizations ... McKeesport Hospital Foundation was nice enough to fund us for one device, which is about $13,000. It's the financing that usually holds most ambulance services back from ever purchasing one.”
Anderson said he first got the idea of acquiring the automated system from his wife Jackquelyn last year on July 4.
She was attending a party in North Huntingdon Township when a neighbor went into cardiac arrest.
“She called me and said, ‘Hey, (township emergency responders) just put this really cool device on this person that does CPR for them,'” Anderson said. “They have a paramedic response truck up there that has one of these on there. I talked to our board of directors, and I said, ‘Hey, I think this is a great device and I think we need to look into it.'”
White Oak EMS took delivery of the LUCAS machine in December.
Anderson said his department responded to six cardiac arrests this year in the borough. The machine was used three times, and all three patients got pulses back by the time they reached a hospital. The device was not available at the time of the other calls.
“We're trying to work on getting at least two more for our other (ambulances),” Anderson said.
The White Oak ambulance company serves the borough, South Versailles Township, and is mutual aid to North Versailles Township, McKeesport and North Huntingdon Township.
Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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