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April 29, 2011

Ohio paramedics consider automated CPR machine

By Cornelius Frolik

HUBER HEIGHTS — The Huber Heights Fire Division is the first department in Montgomery County to own and utilize an automated chest compression machine, which officials said provides more consistent treatment than manual application.

The battery-powered device, called a LUCAS 2, acts essentially as another set of hands, freeing up paramedics to handle other elements of cardiopulmonary resuscitation and rescue measures, said fire Chief Mark Ashworth. The machine has been in use since March.

"They can then focus on other needed care for the patient," he said.

Ashworth said the LUCAS 2 allows paramedics to turn their attention to providing an airway for the patient, securing intravenous access and evaluating electronic readings that show whether the treatment is working.

Manual compression is also exhausting, and the automated system prevents paramedics from wearing out and prevents interruptions in care. Studies have shown that even short pauses in chest compression can prove detrimental to the patient.

Emergency Medical Services personnel treat about 300,000 victims of cardiac arrest each year across the country, according to the American Heart Association. Less than eight percent of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting survive.

The city's fire division purchased the machine for almost $12,000 using leftover funds from last year.

Lt. Jimmy Diltz, who transports the device around in a sport-utility vehicle, responds to all reports of cardiac events. The device is used when the patient is going through cardiac arrest. It has already been used on six patients.

Ashworth said his department is still evaluating the effectiveness of the device, but it clearly outperforms people in chest compression treatment. He said his department could end up purchasing a second unit.

"It has become such a success that when they transport a patient down to the hospital, the hospital doesn't want to give it back," Ashworth said. "They leave it on the patient because it does the same thing for them - it frees up an individual so they can continue doing work on them."

Oakwood fire Capt. Randall Baldridge said while his department does not own one of the devices, he believes they will become more popular because of the increased emphasis on using CPR in cardiac arrest resuscitation. He said it also would come in handy in the ambulance while transporting patients to a hospital.

"The other issue is safety for the crew," he said. "The devices allow for safe CPR while the medic is moving."

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