City of Decatur considers life-saving device - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

City of Decatur considers life-saving device

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As a mannequin's chest is pumped up and down, you realize this is the sound of progress. The latest version of a device to offer constant chest compressions when the heart stops beating.

Lt. Ted McKelvey is the EMS Coordinator for the city of Decatur's Fire Department. "LUCAS I was just a piston-driven air compressor design. Where as this is electronic. It gives a compression and a suction effect that actually makes the chest recoil better."

McKelvey said the $15,000 updated device is credited with saving lives, but there are no concrete studies nationwide. That's why this fire department wants to gather as much data as doing. If we're doing...whether moving the patient...when we're defibrillating...any of the normal skills we would have to stop manual CPR, it allows us to continue."

He said the key is the compression rate.  "The American Heart Association had a study that showed that the average compression rate was either 85 or 115 or in that range. It was never consistently 100. And this allows for a very consistent 100 and it minimizes the interruption of compressions, which according to the American heart association is the key to survival."

The device can not be used on children or on people who will literally not fit into the device.

Most CPR websites recommend 30 compression to two breaths, but those numbers have changed a lot over the years.

"And that's the other reason why we like the LUCAS device, it will be update able so it won't be dated to the 30 to 2 we are currently doing. If it was to change", adds McKelvey.

The machine is back with the company now, but the Decatur Fire Department is still studying the data they compiled. "We have seen a lot better signs of return to circulation. We've had more people returning to signs of circulation. We've even had some incidents where we've had blood pressure on patients where we didn't have a pulse without the LUCAS device," added the veteran firefighter. 

Before asking the city council for money to purchase the devices for the city, firefighters want to know this will be money well spent.

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