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CPR machine purchased by North Huntingdon EMS hailed as life-saver

Joe Napsha
| Thursday, March 31, 2016, 11:05 p.m.

North Huntingdon emergency personnel have a new piece of equipment that performs CPR and will make the job a little easier for first responders.

The LUCAS2 battery-operated CPR device was purchased by North Huntingdon Emergency Medical Services and Rescue with a $15,000 grant from the McKeesport Hospital Foundation.

“It properly hits the depth of the chest compressions. It never gets tired,” said Jeff Tripak, deputy director of North Huntingdon EMS.

EMS personnel performing CPR on a patient can suffer from fatigue of the back, hands and wrist, which can affect the quality of the chest compressions, Tripak said. LUCAS2 doesn't have those problems, and it allows continuous CPR while a patient is being removed from where he or she was stricken to a waiting ambulance.

“Effective CPR is hard work, tiring and could cause injury to a rescuer's back,” said Shane Spielvogle, executive director of the ambulance service.

Chest compressions can erode with time, and “it can happen relatively quick at the most critical time,” said Ed Grant, director of the Penn Township Ambulance Rescue 6, which purchased a mechanical CPR device in October with a private grant. Grant said his emergency responders have used it on four patients.

The device can be put together in less than 30 seconds, Grant said. A pad is placed under the patient's back, and the top part of the device, which conducts the compressions, connects to the pad. It is designed for the “average” adult and is not used on children or small patients, Grant said.

North Huntingdon EMS personnel have been trained on the device and used it with Allegheny Health Network personnel but have yet to use it on a patient, Tripak said this week.

Grant said he believes that Penn Township was the first ambulance service in Westmoreland County to have the mechanical CPR device.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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