New ambulance equipment helps save lives

Posted October 9, 2013 at 12:22 pm

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This new CPR machine, called LUCAS 2, allows paramedics and EMTs to perform continuous CPR. Typically, one tires out after a couple of minutes. These machines keep up no matter how long they perform CPR.


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The Monticello Ambulance Service purchased these new ventilators. The settings on these ventilators can also be adjusted for each patient, depending on his/her physicality. They can help stabilize the patient in the field before transporting to a local hospital. (Photos by Kim Brooks)

By Kim Brooks, Express Editor

Thanks to the generous donations of the Monticello community, the Monticello Ambulance Service has been able to add to its life-saving equipment, to better serve the community.

In May of this year, fundraising letters went out to the community inside the local Monticello Express newspaper and Shoppers’ Guide. The ambulance service was able to raise almost $9,000 through this campaign!

“Donations are still trickling in,” said Brian Hahn, ambulance director.

The funds have been put to good use. Hahn was able to purchase two new CPR devices, called LUCAS 2. The LUCAS 2 is attached to the patient, and performs mechanical CPR at the push of a button.

“The devices don’t tire out like a person does when doing CPR,” explained Hahn. He said studies have shown that after just two minutes, a person gets fatigued and compressions become less effective, which isn’t a good thing when trying to save a life.

“The LUCAS 2 provides consistent effective compressions.

“The battery-powered device utilizes a suction cup when it comes in contact with the person’s chest, which allows the Lucas 2 to assist the chest in the recoil phase and help move more blood through the heart, lungs and brain,” Hahn said.

The LUCAS 2 is also handy when carrying a patient down a narrow flight of stairs or through a narrow doorway. Hahn explained if an EMT or paramedic were doing manual CPR, and they have to maneuver down the stairs, they can’t always provide constant CPR.

“These are huge when it comes to saving a life,” he said.

With two LUCAS 2 CPR machines on hand, one will be placed inside the primary Monticello ambulance, and the second has been placed inside the Monticello ambulance stationed in Hopkinton.

“We haven’t had to use them yet,” said Hahn, “which is a good thing.”

All of the paramedics and EMTs have been trained to use the LUCAS 2 machines.

Hahn said there are body size restrictions on the CPR devices. An alarm goes off if a patient is too big or too small. In that instance, or if the device were to fail for some reason, the staff and volunteers provide manual CPR.

“It’s just an additional tool to help us better serve the community,” said Hahn. “But they don’t replace us in providing manual CPR. They just provide a better outcome sometimes.”

An informal study done in the Seattle area showed that the survival rate from Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest using a LUCAS 2 was around 30 percent versus 17 percent using manual CPR.

“It’s had a pretty big effect,” Hahn said of the data.

In a case in Des Moines where the LUCAS 2 is in use by the Des Moines Fire Department, Hahn said after 50 minutes, the device was able to bring someone back to life. Normally, a doctor might call it after doing CPR for 20 minutes with no results.

“More hospitals and EMS agencies are getting similar devices because of the effectiveness of consistent compressions,” Hahn said.

Another equipment addition to the Monticello Ambulance Service is two new ventilators. These equipment purchases were built into the department’s yearly budget.

With more training opportunities available to paramedics, their skill levels have dramatically increased.

These new ventilators, made by Impact Instrumentation, Inc., allow for better control of a patient’s airway.

Hahn said EMS is a young profession in the grand scheme of things, as time and technology has advanced, paramedics have been able to do so much more in the field than 20 years ago or more.

“As we prove ourselves as medical professionals, the State of Iowa and doctors have allowed us to do more in the field to have a more effective outcome,” Hahn said.

With these new ventilators, the settings on them can also be adjusted for each patient. Hahn said everyone has a different airway depending on numerous factors, such as whether you’re a smoker, if you have a respiratory disease, or just the age of the person.

“We can adjust the settings so there is less trauma to the lungs.”

While the ambulance service has always had a ventilator, these new ones have 10 times the settings. Both of the ventilators will be located in the primary and backup Monticello ambulances.

Another plus for the ambulance service, when a call goes out for a transfer from Jones Regional Medical Center to another hospital, Monticello is able to accept the call because they have the equipment necessary to transfer a patient who might require a bi-level positive airway pressure capable ventilator. Hahn said before, if a respiratory therapist was not available to go on the transfer, Monticello would have to decline the call.

The ventilators were designed for military battlefield use, so they are durable and field-tested. Lifeguard Air Ambulance at St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids also uses the same ventilator in their helicopter.

Overall, these new life-saving equipment additions to the Monticello Ambulance Service allow for better care and, more importantly, a better chance of survival.

“It’s truly cutting edge technology,” said Hahn.

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