The next time a paramedic from the Prosper Fire Department is involved in attempting to save the life of a cardiac arrest victim, he or she may start calling for help from Lucas. Rest assured, though, he or she is not invoking a patron saint or seeking the intervention of a character from Star Wars but is referring to one of two LUCAS devices now part of the department’s emergency medical services inventory.
The LUCAS device is a portable, electric-powered piece of medical equipment that automates the life-saving chest compressions that have been the basis for CPR, long recognized as the most effective way to restart and regulate heart rhythm. The Prosper Fire Department has two LUCAS devices, one for each of the two emergency medical service teams on constant call, says Fire Chief Stuart Blasingame. “We are all trained in providing CPR, and we acknowledge that it is unsurpassed in saving the lives of cardiac arrest victims,” he said. “Even so, we are all subject to becoming tired or administering it unevenly. The LUCAS device is designed to provide CPR without interruption or variance. It frees up our paramedics to deal with any other immediate issues.”
The LUCAS device automatically delivers 100 chest compressions per minute or two compressions per second consistently. These consistent compressions along with the use of an AED (automated external defibrillator) can help the heart of affected victims start beating in a regular rhythm. “Using the LUCAS device provides essential chest compressions, and also gives our paramedics the freedom to administer other lifesaving medications or prepare the victim for transport,” he said. “It’s almost like having another person onsite devoted specifically to providing CPR.” Unlike the hands of paramedics, which can only push on a victim’s chest, the LUCAS device has the additional ability of pulling and lifting the chest. It is designed with a plunger that is shaped like a suction cup, which lifts the chest, causing the heart to fill with blood much easier. Fire Department personnel have undergone complete training on the device and are now carrying a LUCAS in each of the department’s EMS units.