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August 10, 2017

Fire department's new CPR equipment will give patients 'best possible chance'

By Mike Danahey
Elgin Courier-News

ELGIN, Ill. — The Elgin Fire Department intends to use a $72,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to purchase state-of-the-art equipment to be used when performing CPR.

The City Council Wednesday night is set to move along for final approval the purchase from Michigan-based Stryker for $79,400, with $7,200 of the money coming from the Fire Department's capital budget. Stryker is the owner of Washington-based Physio-Control, which makes the system.

"We will be getting five of the systems, one for every frontline ambulance," Fire Chief Dave Schmidt said Tuesday.

"It's great tool to have in the community," said Dr. Mohammad Zaman, Medical Director, CEP America, Presence St. Joseph Hospital Elgin.

The systems are designed to provide consistent, high-quality mechanical chest compressions that meet the American Heart Association standards for rate, depth and speed, Schmidt said. He noted that part of the apparatus goes under a person's back, while the other part wraps over a person's chest and holds a device which applies the compressions, which can be adjusted to the size of the person.

The Lucas Chest Compression System the department plans to buy allows firefighters to keep CPR going while a patient is on a stretcher and while the patient is being moved, even up or down stairs, Schmidt said.

The machines also take away lapses in applying CPR thus lessening health-related issues for patients and keep the compressions consistent, taking away the fatigue factor when a paramedic is applying the compressions, Schmidt said. Current protocol calls for CPR to be applied for 30 minutes before terminating resuscitation efforts.

Schmidt said the systems also mean more safety for paramedics while in ambulances, who now can wear a seat belt while chest compressions are being applied by the battery-operated machine.

The systems are Bluetooth enabled so that they can transmit the data they collect to the department's computer system and to the hospital to which a patient is being taken, Schmidt said.

The idea for purchasing the systems came from a recommendation from the department's internal EMS committee on which he serves, Firefighter-Paramedic Anthony McMeel said.

With his job, McMeel said he keeps up on emergent technology and noted research showing CPR and early defibrillation are keys to increasing the survival of someone in cardiac arrest.

"These systems give the patient the best possible chance," McMeel said.

Fire Department members tested two different units prior to deciding on the Lucas model. The Lucas was tested from late January through March, the other from late March through late May, Schmidt said.

McMeel said that all Elgin firefighters were trained on both models, with both also used in the field. The Lucas System was picked because of its simple design and ease of use, McMeel said.

According to Schmidt, statistics show that each year in the United States, more than 300,000 individuals suffer non-traumatic, out-of-hospital, sudden cardiac arrest, which has been the leading cause of death in adults over 40. The Elgin Fire Department responds to about 56 cardiac arrest incidents annually, he said.

During a four-month trial of the two mechanical CPR systems, the Return of Spontaneous Circulation (ROSC) percentage rate in cardiac arrest victims rose from 36 percent to almost 58 percent, Schmidt said. Upon completion of the trial, the rate returned to 36, or about 10 percent higher than the national ROSC average, Schmidt said.

Carpentersville Fire Chief John-Paul Schilling said that village's Fire Department has been using Lucas Systems it purchased with federal grant money about a year ago. He attributed the machine to saving a life.

"It does perfect CPR," Schilling said. "It increases the chances for survival and frees up a medic for other tasks."

Schmidt thanked FEMA for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant and Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth who provided letters of support that were included with the application.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Along with McMeel, Firefighter-paramedic Patrick Rasmussen, Lieutenants Chris Kennedy and Mike Oine and Elgin Senior Management Analyst Aaron Cosentino played roles in getting the purchased moved forward, Schmidt said.


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