ShareThis Page

Medical staff gets help from CPR device

| Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, 9:02 p.m.
South Hills Record
Medical Rescue Team South Authority assistant chief John Moses, left, and paramedic Jesse Siefert demonstrate how to use the Lucas 2 chest compression system. Randy Jarosz | For The South Hills Record
South Hills Record
Medical Rescue Team South Authority paramedic Dave Englert demonstrates how the Lucas 2 chest compression system would be used on a stretcher. Randy Jarosz | For The South Hills Record
South Hills Record
The Medical Rescue Team South Authority Lucas 2 chest compression system. Randy Jarosz | For The South Hills Record

The patient lies motionless in sudden cardiac arrest.

Lucas, with his arms outstretched, begins chest compressions — as many as 100 a minute — and his strength never wanes. No matter the situation, his motions are unfaltering.

The second Lund University Cardiac Assist System — known as “LUCAS 2” — can outlast and outperform nearly any human conducting cardiopulmonary resuscitation with its continuous compressions and battery-powered sustainability, said Medical Rescue Team South Authority Chief Todd Pritchard.

“This device takes the place the place of you and it doesn't get tired. It's merely replacing a human and doing a much better job at it,” Pritchard said.

Medical Rescue Team South Authority — which services Whitehall, Baldwin Township, Mt. Lebanon, Green Tree, Dormont and Castle Shannon — is one of the first transport agencies in Allegheny County to purchase the mechanical compression devise, Pritchard said. Funding for the $13,570 Swedish-crafted mechanical CPR equipment came from a grant from Whitehall-based Snee-Reinhardt Charitable Foundation. LUCAS 2 went into operation at MRTSA within the last month.

The goal with any sudden cardiac arrest patient is to maintain a steady supply of oxygen to the heart and brain, which can be achieved through CPR, as they work to restore “return of spontaneous circulation” as soon as possible, MRTSA staffers said. A person's likelihood of surviving sudden cardiac arrest is dependent on “high-quality, uninterrupted CPR.”

A person who performs CPR is, at best, 85 percent effective in the first two minutes of compressions, according to a study conducted through the American Heart Association. After those two minutes, though, a person's effectiveness in performing the compressions drops.

A mechanical continuous compression device, such as the “LUCAS 2,” is meant to provide the same quality of compressions every time, MRTSA staffers said.

MRTSA previously had another device that was not as effective, assistant Chief John Moses said.

The “LUCAS 2” can be used for nearly all patients in sudden cardiac arrest. The battery lasts up to an hour, Pritchard said.

A board is simply placed under the person, the arms strapped around them, and, with the flip of a switch the machine begins to pump furiously.

“It's a good balance,” paramedic Jesse Siefert said of the force that the “LUCAS 2” uses. “When this machine is on, you can actually feel a pulse.”

“These are highly effective compressions without interruptions,” Pritchard added.

The device was tested by MRTSA staff for about three months in the spring, where it was used about 10 times. Based on staff input, it was determined the “LUCAS 2” must be purchased, Pritchard said.

“Even those who were skeptical about it at first wanted it after they used it,” he said.

MRTSA gets between 80 and 100 calls a year for sudden cardiac arrests.

Within its first several weeks on the job, “LUCAS 2” already has been used multiple times.

Only 90 minutes after opening the box and beginning to charge the batteries for “Lucas 2,” it became apparent how vital this device would be for MRTSA staff and patients, when the first call for a sudden cardiac arrest came in and the device was put into action.

“LUCAS 2” is carried in the MRTSA supervisor's vehicle, which is sent to all cardiac arrest calls. The emergency medical service is considering the purchase of a second device in 2013, Pritchard said.

The device allows for improved productivity and use of manpower for paramedics when on a call.

Still, not everyone has access to a mechanical chest compression system. And of the 383,000 out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrests that occur in the nation annually, 88 percent happen in the home, according to 2011 statistics from the American Heart Association.

So, MRTSA staffers urge residents to learn CPR.

For more information on CPR classes offered by MRTSA, visit, or call 412-343-5111.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.