Device aids in saving lives in Greene

January 2, 2013
At left, Jason Beal, assistant director of operations for EMS Southwest, takes part in a demonstration of the Lucas 2, a device that performs chest compressions in the event of cardiac arrest. He is aided by a representative from the manufacturer of the device. Tara Kinsell/Observer-Reporter

WAYNESBURG – Five out of the six people who were treated for cardiac arrest by EMS Southwest, Inc. in Greene County last year are still alive with much credit being given to a lifesaving piece of equipment called the Lucas 2.

In September, EMS Southwest Inc. received five Lucas 2 devices for its first responder vehicles, thanks to a generous grant from the Greene County Memorial Hospital Foundation.

“There are only 40 to 50 of them in the state and nobody else has them on all of their first out vehicles,” said Rob Bowman, director of operations at EMS Southwest. “We are very fortunate to have them.”

Bowman said the EMTs at his company have told him how pleased they have been with the results of using the Lucas 2.

“Five out of six patients is pretty awesome. It frees the first responders up to do other things to save a person’s life,” Bowman added. “There have been quite a few doctors and state police who have been pretty amazed by it. There has been some interest shown with some of the schools that offer EMT and paramedic classes.”

Although Bowman said he can’t say for sure the Lucas 2 was the decisive factor in saving those five people, he said he was confident in saying it had “something” to do with it, noting the Lucas 2 exceeds the 100 compressions per minute standard of the heart association with 102 compressions per minute at a steady 2-inch depth with full recoil of the chest. Fifty percent of the time the suction cup is pushing down and 50 percent it is pulling back up, Bowman said. He stressed that it is important to remember that CPR still needs to be applied until emergency personnel arrive on scene to apply the device.

Thanks to the compressions of the Lucas 2, first responders from EMS Southwest no longer have to worry about their arms giving out before they reach the nearest heart catheterization lab, said Jason Beal, assistant director of operations for EMS Southwest. Instead, they have a device that gives what Beal has called the “perfect CPR.”

“It doesn’t get tired like we do. It doesn’t stop when the patient has to be lifted or when taking the patient down steps or a hillside,” Beal said at a news conference in September. “There is also the safety aspect. When you are in the back of the ambulance working on a patient you can’t be seated and in a seatbelt. Once the Lucas 2 is applied a crew member can be secured and protected in the case of an accident.”

The designers of the Lucas 2 took into consideration scenarios, such as possible accidents on the way to the hospital, to come up with a unit that best suits the needs of patients and emergency services personnel in the field. Once the device is attached to a patient it can stay with them all the way to a catheterization lab and even on a flight to a medical facility. Bearing in mind that not all patients are going to be of the same build, the Lucas 2 is equipped with a belt that fits 94 percent of adults. It is equipped with a battery that holds a charge of 59 minutes but can also operate by plugging it into an outlet. If a fresh battery becomes necessary, it can be inserted in less than one minute. To prevent problems during transport, such as IVs being pulled out by a patient, there are straps to secure their arms.

The American Heart Association recommends hands-only CPR prior to the arrival of emergency services personnel. After first calling 911, push fast and hard in the center of the chest to the beat of the song, “Stayin’ Alive,” by the Bee Gees. Doing so will increase the person’s chances of survival by double or triple, according to the Heart Association.

Tara Kinsell started her career in journalism with the National Geographic Insider Magazine and the Gaithersburg Gazette Newspaper in Montgomery County, Md. Tara has written and photographed sports, features and news stories for the Herald Standard, Greene County Messenger and Albert Gallatin Weekly. She holds degrees in journalism and graphic design from Waynesburg College, now Waynesburg University, and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, respectively.

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