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EMS adds life-saving tool

EMS Captain Sonia Kubesh demonstrates the use of the LUCAS 2 device on a dummy.

Earlier this year, the Village of Roberts authorized the purchase of a new LUCAS 2 CPR device for use by the Roberts Warren Fire-Rescue Department.

Jolife in Lund, Sweden developed the LUCAS 2 in 2001. It's a mechanical chest compression device built to deliver hands-free, uninterrupted compressions at a consistent rate and depth in a cardiac arrest situation. In 2011, according to Chief Jeff Vogt, the department responded to six cardiac cases in which a device like the LUCAS 2 could have been employed.

According to EMS Captain Sonia Kubesh, "Performing CPR is like running a marathon, it's very physically taxing on the body."

National studies show that after about two minutes, a human performing CPR is not as effective because fatigue begins to set in, so compression rates do not remain consistent.

"When the device is correctly set up, it determines the physical characteristics of the patient and accordingly does everything correctly for that patient," Kubesh said.

One important distinction is that the device can only be used in non-traumatic cardiac arrest situations.

"We are not authorized by the state to use the device in traumatic situations like a car accident because of the proximity of broken bones that under compression might puncture a lung or damage other internal organs," Kubesh explained.

Previous to the advent of portable CPR devices like the LUCAS 2, it fell to members of an EMS team to provide CPR to a victim of cardiac arrest.

"We'd take turns and switch out," Kubesh said. "But because of the nature of a volunteer department, you often end up with only two or three people on a run and very rapidly run out of energy. With the LUCAS 2, as soon as we arrive on the scene, someone will physically start CPR while somebody else gets the machine set up. It takes less than 30 seconds to get set up."

Compressing at a rate of 100 times per minute for up to 45 minutes the LUCAS 2 facilitates return of spontaneous circulation while reducing the toll performing CPR takes on rescue personnel.

"It circulates blood to the heart and the brain which keeps the oxygen flowing and thereby keeps the organs viable."

Some of the features that led the department to choose the LUCAS 2 include its portability, it weighs 17 pounds including the battery and stows in a backpack just over two feet long. It's also easy to use, making it easy to train department personnel. More importantly, it provides EMS crews the freedom to perform other live-saving interventions like securing airways and defibrillation from the moment of first response all the way to the hospital. It also substantially increases the viability of organs in the case of organ donation scenarios.

According to Chief Vogt, "Our first priority is always the welfare of our patients. This device is another means of achieving that goal."

Kubesh agrees. "We're giving our patients the ultimate care from the get-go," she said.