First responders to breathe easier with new CPR devices

Visalia purchases chest compression devices to protect firefighters from breathing in the virus during CPR

VISALIA – Chest compressions have been the first action taken by first responders for patients who have had a heart attack for 60 years but these days the person giving CPR is also at risk.

In order to protect its firefighter/paramedics from being infected with coronavirus, the city of Visalia has purchased seven mechanical chest compression devices for each of the Visalia Fire Department’s primary response units.

“Firefighter paramedics assigned to provide compressions are in close proximity to the patient’s mouth and nose and are at a greater risk of exposure to blood, saliva, etc.,” Fire Chief Dan Griswold wrote in his staff report to the Visalia City Council. “Additionally, members giving compressions are participating in an aerobic event that increases a firefighters tidal volume and makes it more likely to breath in aerosol from the patient. Due to the strenuous aerobic nature of providing manual compressions, firefighter/paramedics are often rotated into this compression roll exposing multiple members.”

The LUCAS 3 device provides automated high-quality, guideline-consistent chest compressions for patients in cardiac arrest and requiring CPR. The LUCAS 3 alleviates the need for a firefighter paramedic to be committed to chest compressions and frees the care provider for other necessary interventions.

The LUCAS device is widely accepted in the healthcare industry as a much more efficient means of performing chest compressions and is also in use at Kaweah Delta Medical Center. The seven devices were purchased from Stryker Medical, the sole provider of the new LUCAS chest compression system in the United States, for just over $137,000. The price included a maintenance and repair contract and each device comes with a three-year warranty that can be renewed. Stryker is also the sole provider for factory-authorized inspection and repair services for the devices. Money for the purchase of the devices came from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Zoll, Stryker’s only competitor for chest compression devices, offers a device that uses a different technique and has been documented to cause harm to patients, according to Griswold’s report. The Zoll device also uses a much more expensive “Life Band” that needs to be replaced after each use. The cost of these bands range in price from $200-$300 each, substantially more expensive than the LUCAS device’s cost of $44 per use to replace the disposable suction cup.

“We did not perform a demo on these devices due to concerns voiced by many other providers,” Griswold stated.

The Fire Department previously purchased one LUCAS 3 device in March 2020. Prior to purchasing, the department participated in a four-month field evaluation. Griswold reported that the department used the device approximately 20 times and said he received “nothing but positive feedback from personnel on this device, even from the harshest critics.”

In addition to its mechanical performance, Griswold said the devices integrates and communicates with the department’s current Life Pak cardiac monitors and sends call data to a cloud-based storage server for use in patient care documentation.

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