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June 5, 2013

Md. fire department says new CPR method saving more lives

The Capital

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — New CPR techniques and technology helped Anne Arundel County’s Fire Department save the lives of five times as many patients with cardiac emergencies in April than it did in previous months, officials said.

The Department in April saved 15 patients who were suffering from cardiac arrest.

The improvement stems from abandoning outdated techniques and technology, said Dr. Roy Myers, medical director for the Fire Department.

The Fire Department has adopted revolutionary CPR methods, at Myers’ urging, that include the use of 23 new LUCAS 2 chest compression systems.

The compression machines, which cost more than $223,000, have helped as emergency responders worked on patients around the county, Fire Department spokesman Division Chief Keith Swindle said.

“We’ve seen a dramatic increase in the survivability for patients suffering sudden cardiac events,” he said.

The CPR method calls for 100 continuous chest compressions — handled by the LUCAS 2 — before breaking to provide airflow. The old CPR method called for 30 compressions. Before that, it was 15. Before that, five.

High-performance CPR was developed after firefighters realized chest compressions don’t nudge the heart. Instead, compressions depress the lungs, forcing oxygen into the heart and building pressure.

Rapid compressions create an artificial blood flow to vital organs like the brain, where seconds without blood can cause permanent damage.

Previously, compressions stopped while the heart rhythm was analyzed and the defibrillator charged — an interruption of about 30 seconds. During that time, heart pressure dissipated. Defibrillators are most successful after pressure builds.

High-performance CPR requires continuous compressions while the rhythm is analyzed and defibrillator charged. The only interruption comes at the time of the shock — about 5 seconds.

The county Fire Department trained a total of 1,500 full-time personnel and volunteer firefighters in February and March to implement the new CPR techniques, including the LUCAS 2.

County Executive Laura Neuman visited West Annapolis Fire Department Monday to check out the new machinery. She was pleased Anne Arundel County already trained all of its Fire Department personnel while neighboring counties are still completing the training.

Cara McAdams, a firefighter paramedic, said the LUCAS 2 is an improvement over the previous model, which was larger and more difficult to transport.

“It’s real easy to maneuver,” she said.

The Fire Department offers basic CPR training to members of the public. Myers encourages citizens to take CPR classes, just in case they are on hand during a cardiac emergency.

For more information on the Fire Department’s CPR classes, Myers urges people to contact their local station.

Copyright 2013 Capital Gazette Communications, Inc.

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