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October 6, 2011

Fla. fire department invests in new CPR pumps

By David Rogers
The Palm Beach Daily News

PALM BEACH, Fla. — For Palm Beach, $51,310 does not represent a large budget expense.

But that figure, for four AutoPulse noninvasive cardiac support pumps, represents an investment in residents' welfare, according to members of the Fire-Rescue Department.

The department first bought four such devices five years ago and the recent purchases will replace those, said Brian Fuller, emergency medical services division chief.

The devices, manufactured by Zoll Medical Corp. of Chelmsford, Mass., are used to deliver greater blood flow to people experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. A key feature is a load-distribution band that compresses a wide area of the chest, rather than delivering only compressions to the heart itself.

"Imagine if you could do CPR where every stroke you gave was a home run. That's what the AutoPulse does for us," said James Weber, department spokesman. Manual cardiopulmonary resuscitation can be less effective, as people may not compress the chest deep enough and may not maintain the proper timing of compressions, Weber said. "Over time, you get tired. CPR is a very strenuous thing to do," Weber said.

Even though the AutoPulse device helps fire-rescue workers deliver CPR more effectively, the ability to survive cardiac arrest is to get help immediately, Weber said. "CPR is about 30 percent effective when done perfectly," Weber said. Every minute of cardiac arrest reduces a person's survival by 10 percent, so calling 911 at the onset of chest pain and other symptoms of heart attack or stroke is vital, Weber said.

"After a very short period of time, irreversible damage occurs," Fuller said.

The replacements arrived recently and will be put in use once training is completed, the spokesman said.

Fuller said the department uses the device 12-16 times a year.

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