Fire departments get new CPR devices

Rocklin and Roseville receive free six-month trial
By: Andrew Westrope, Staff Writer
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The Rocklin Fire Department will receive new life-saving technology before the end of the month, on loan for a six-month free trial from Washington-based medical technology company Physio-Control.

Before its trial begins July 1, the department will receive two cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) compression devices called LUCAS 2, valued at $15,000 apiece. The device is designed to fit around the chest of a patient who has stopped breathing, then mechanically apply perfect CPR while emergency responders administer medications or attend to the patient’s other needs.

Given a non-responsive patient, Rocklin firefighter/paramedic Kevin Shepard said one emergency responder would begin manual CPR while another slides a back plate under the patient, connects and positions another piece above the patient’s chest and turns it on. With the manual responder out of the way, a plunger moves up and down on the patient’s chest, giving compressions at the rate of 100 per minute and signaling a responder to give the patient two ventilations, or breaths, after each set of 30.

Shepard said that by giving perfect, consistent compressions, the device allows more blood flow to the brain and heart, increases tissue oxygenation without interruptions and allows responders to use a defibrillator at the same time if needed, which is not feasible with manual CPR.

“Every interruption that happens in CPR, whether it be changing rescuers out or stopping compressions to shock the patient, if they have a shockable heart rhythm, are detrimental to providing blood to the heart and brain,” he said. “With the LUCAS, we don’t have to pause it to shock, and there’s no stopping with a switch of rescuers.”

Shepard said he and Dr. Robert Royer, a physician at Sutter Roseville Medical Center, did months of research on the device after discussions started in March, and Shepard intends to seek grants to purchase three devices for the department to keep. Roseville Fire Department has since signed on for a trial period, as well.

Though the device has been selling in Europe for 10 years and in the US since 2007, Shepard said Rocklin and Roseville are the first departments in Placer County to give LUCAS a try.

According to the device’s website, the device can increase brain flow by 60 percent over manual CPR, and sometimes results in a patient resuming consciousness during CPR. Shepard said his own experience corroborates this, and the device is catching on statewide.

“I myself have used this device in Alameda County working as a paramedic down there in Oakland and all throughout the county, and each fire department was currently using it, as well as many other fire departments throughout California,” he said.