DOUBLE SPRINGS - The new life saving machine called Lund University Cardiopulmonary Assist System, LUCAS for short, was purchased by the Double Springs Fire Department recently and has already been used on a patient.
The machine was developed through Lund University in Sweden to assist first responders by performing chest compressions. It was purchased by the DSFD on Dec. 7.
“We put it into service after we did some initial training on it,” Lieutenant Erik Gilbreath explained. “It is straightforward on how to use it. We showed everyone how it works and made them put it on the test dummy.”
Gilbreath also mentioned the device only works on patients within a certain range in body thickness. For example, the machine cannot be used on a small child or smaller person as it would not start for safety reasons.
“Within a couple weeks once we got it, we had to use it,” Gilbreath said. “It performed flawlessly. I can’t brag on it enough. The depth of the compressions were consistent throughout. It kept perfect time. I was a little skeptical about it when we first got it, but after seeing it in action, I’m impressed with it, though we still need to be trained on performing CPR. I encourage everyone to train up on it.”
CPR is an exhaustive process, making the heart pump blood by mimicking the action of it beating and using the breast bone and spine. After a short time, arm and other muscles begin to ache, causing fatigue to those performing CPR and why the LUCAS device is a huge advantage.
“It’s one of those things you hope you never have to use, but then it’s good to have when you need it,” Gilbreath stated, mentioning all within the fire department had a chance to work with it. “It’s going to benefit the department and the folks in the community.”
To begin, a back plate is inserted behind the patient while on their back. The device is then brought over the patient’s chest and hooked to the back plate with straps. The portion of the device above the chest extends down with a suction cup. When turned on, the device will move vertically, creating chest compressions. After every 30 compressions, the machine will beep to indicate the first responder should give a breath to, or bag, the patient.
“Having that machine do the compressions for me will free me up to make sure the defibrillator is working correctly or to breathe for the patient,” Gilbreath said.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.