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Green Fire’s new CPR equipment can increase survival

7/3/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

Green Fire Department paramedic Jason Wells stands in as a patient to show how the LUCAS 2 chest compression system is used.
Photo: Maria Lindsay
GREEN — New equipment recently purchased by the Green Fire Department will offer patients who need resuscitation a better chance of survival.

Green Fire Department Chief Jeff Funai said the department purchased three LUCAS 2 chest compression systems that provide continuous compressions during cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for teens and adults who have no heartbeat and are not breathing.

Funai said the devices, each costing $12,500, are now in the three EMS ambulances — two stationed at the Massillon Road station and one at the East Turkeyfoot Lake Road station. Paramedics also received training in their use, he added.

“This is some of the best money we have ever spent,” said Dr. Ross Campensa, medical director for Green Fire. “These are the latest, state-of-the-art tools that offer the best chance of survivability.”

Campensa is an emergency medicine specialist with Canton Aultman Emergency Physicians and Aultman Hospital in Orrville, and he spends eights hours three times a month training Green Fire paramedics at the Green Fire station. He also spends some of that time making runs with EMS personnel.

Campensa said Green Fire and paramedics in Richfield are the only departments in Summit County currently using the LUCAS 2 system. The machine weighs 17 pounds, is placed over the chest of a patient and adjusted to fit, and once it is turned on, it provides even, rhythmic and continuous chest compressions according to American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines, he said. Its use is continued until a pulse returns or doctors at a hospital say otherwise.

According to Campensa, medical professionals used a similar machine in the 1980s called “The Thumper,” which he said did not work well.

“The old idea was dusted off and new technology was added, and it is has become more useful because of the recent AHA changes,” said Campensa.

Campensa said the LUCAS 2 devices were purchased to better meet the changed AHA guidelines established for patients needing resuscitation. He explained those changes, adopted in 2010, moved the focus from the order of establishing an airway, breathing for the patient and circulation (performing chest compressions or cardiopulmonary resuscitation) to placing the emphasis on circulation first (get the heart beating) before establishing an airway and breathing. He said the change came from evidence-based medicine that showed circulation was the most important of the three to increase chances of resuscitation and thus patient survival.

Campensa said interrupting circulation, or chest compressions, has been found to decrease the chances of resuscitating a patient. He added chest compressions are interrupted when paramedics have to stop to move a patient through a doorway or down stairs or sometimes to perform other medical procedures, such as defibrillation (sending an electric shock to the heart).

He also said it is difficult to evenly maintain the recommended 2-inch compression of the chest in CPR and the rhythm of the effort over long periods and especially in the back of a moving, swaying ambulance. Campensa said he has tried to do just that himself, and he found it a challenge.

Funai said because it takes seven chest compressions to start circulation, when a paramedic has to interrupt that effort, the chance of resuscitation decreases.

Campensa said personally seeing the limitations of manual CPR by responders in the field helped to expedite the purchase of the LUCAS 2.

“The LUCAS 2 minimizes the number of interruptions and maximizes compressions, and that hopefully increases the change of resuscitation,” said Campensa. “It does exactly what the AHA recommends and it does not tire.”

Campensa added the LUCAS 2 frees up paramedics to do other procedures, including defibrillation, if necessary, and to move the patient into the ambulance while at the same time maintaining those critical chest compressions.

Dr. Daniel Celik, an emergency medicine doctor with Summa Health System who is training with Campensa at Green Fire, said his observations on the use of the LUCAS 2 shows it has a “calming affect on paramedics.” Celik said tending to an emergency call can create “a lot of movement,” but the LUCAS 2 allows paramedics to focus on other matters, such as administering medications, starting an IV and managing airways.

Campensa said doctors in emergency rooms are often happy to see patients arrive with the LUCAS 2 working and will often leave it on while they make assessments and perform other tasks.

Funai said paramedics will continue to do manual chest compressions on patients when responding to 9-1-1 calls until the machine is set up, which only takes about 45 seconds.

“But when seconds count for a positive outcome for those in full cardiac arrest, these devices save lives,” said Funai.

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