This week, all Gold Cross EMS ambulances began carrying new machines that administer chest compressions automatically for cardiac arrest patients.
Called the LUCAS 2, the machine applies standardized chest compressions in accordance with the latest scientific guidelines from the American Heart Association, said Maj. Michael Willis, the director of clinical services at Gold Cross.
“The LUCAS frees the medic up,” he said. “It allows them to focus on administering drugs or other areas.”
Sudden cardiac arrest patients require a steady supply of oxygen to the heart and brain in order to avoid neurological damage, according to literature provided by Gold Cross. The LUCAS 2 provides a better way to achieve blood circulation through aggressive and uninterrupted chest compressions.
The guidelines for compressions during cardiac arrest are “fast, hard and continuous,” Willis said. The LUCAS 2 administers compressions at 2 inches in depth and at a frequency of 100 per minute or greater.
Each machine has two batteries that last 45 minutes and a power cord that can be plugged in to the ambulance if needed.
Willis, who is in charge of Gold Cross training, said there is a greater emphasis on chest compressions being administered with the same amount of pressure and at identical intervals, which can be very difficult for a human.
“CPR can be tiring,” Willis said. “After a few minutes, it is nearly impossible to stay consistent.”
The back of an ambulance has room for only two medics and the patient. Before Thursday, one medic had to constantly administer compressions. Because it is such a physical task, the medics would switch off, so the compressions changed with each medic.
When the ambulance is in motion, it bounces up and down. The LUCAS is snugly attached to the patient, keeping the compressions constant even in difficult conditions.
“We are very excited about the LUCASes,” Willis said. “They will help save lives.”
The LUCAS machines are compact, which allows the medic to take them into the patient’s home or to the scene of the episode and start compressions immediately. The compressions will continue as the patient is loaded into the ambulance and even on arrival at the emergency room.
Willis said Doctors Hospital has already purchased its own LUCAS machines. He said Medical College of Georgia Hospital and University Hospital are looking into purchasing them.
In the next two weeks, Gold Cross is adding new ventilator machines that will automatically administer oxygen, freeing up the medic even more, Willis said.
“We want them to concentrate on administering drugs and watching the monitors,” he said. “This technology will allow them to do that.”