March 26, 2009
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The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) division of Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) was recently selected as one of only four agencies in the United States to evaluate a promising new tool that will help treat those who suffer sudden cardiac arrest in Contra Costa.
The FDA-cleared device, called the LUCAS Compression System, is strapped onto a patient´s body and provides steady and effective CPR.
"The LUCAS chest compression device delivers the same quality care for all patients. Unlike a human, it doesn´t get distracted, it doesn´t get tired," said Pam Dodson, Prehospital Care Coordinator for EMS. "This device allows rescuers to focus on other lifesaving tasks at hand."
Dodson said cardiac arrest could strike in an instant, without warning. As many as 700 people suffer from cardiac arrest in Contra Costa each year, according to Dodson. A person will become unresponsive and stop breathing. "It´s critical that you call 911 if you notice someone with these symptoms," she said. "Calling 911 and starting CPR could make the difference between life and death."
Health Services has deployed 12 LUCAS devices to some of the busiest fire stations throughout the county. The portable machines are sent with first responder fire crews, and can be used in the field and during ambulance transport. "In order to increase the chances of survival and decrease brain damage, a person needs a steady supply of oxygen and blood to the brain," Dodson said.
The air-powered devices deliver 100 compressions per minute, a rate recommended by the American Heart Association. Dodson said the first minutes are the most critical, and "after two minutes, most rescuers would have a difficult time keeping that rate up — especially in a moving ambulance."
The LUCAS device and the rescuer remain with the cardiac arrest victim until care is handed off to emergency room staff.
Contra Costa received the devices at no cost from Jolife, Inc. the sponsor of the North American LUCAS Evaluation project. The Swedish-made devices have been used with much success for several years in Europe. To find out more about the LUCAS chest compression system, visit www.cccems.org.
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