Busy Smyrna ambulance company touts new lifesaving CPR device

A Lucas chest compression system for cardiac arrests costs nearly $16,000, not including accessories. (Delaware State News/Craig Anderson)

SMYRNA — This lifesaver never tires and is always available for a call.

Two days after a Lucas chest compression system device debuted last month it more than justified its $15,000 price tag.

Responding to a cardiac distress call at a residence on Nov. 13, EMTs Tamara Jackson and Ashley Kavaky arrived to find an incoherent woman on the floor gasping severely and clearly in danger.

The American Legion Ambulance Station 64 crew slid a Lucas board under the struggling victim’s back, placed the stabilizing bars above her chest and pressed the start button.

A suction cup device began plunging methodically onto the woman’s chest for compression, rising and then dropping again without interruption or change of pace.

Freed from the need to perform CPR, the first responders focused on pulse and airway checks, among other necessary measures.

The victim regained her own pulse on the ambulance transport from the Sunnyside Road area to Bayhealth-Kent General Hospital in Dover, and started to breathe naturally, a stabilization that’s infrequent in similar crises.

Recalling the experience this week, Ms. Jackson succinctly described Lucas’ performance as “very efficient.”

Added Ms. Kavaky, “It puts crews at ease, knowing they have Lucas,”

“Plus you don’t go home sore the next day.”

The save was typical of what inspires Ms. Kavaky to perform her duty, often several times a shift.

“It definitely makes you realize what you have and what you can give to someone else in their time of need,” Ms. Kavaky said.

In the past month or so, the two Lucas systems have been engaged approximately 12 times in a busy station responsible for 56 square miles covering southern New Castle and northern Kent counties. Station 64’s territory stretches east to west from the Delaware Bay to Maryland border. The station regularly receives 10 emergency calls or more a day.

After Station 64 board members identified a need to add the Lucas devices, chairman Buddy Lloyd led a strategic fundraising campaign to purchase two of them. The push was fueled by 8 to 10 businesses contributing $500 to $1,500 and fund-raisers involving a quarter auction, 5K run/walk and shrimp feast, among others.

“These devices are essential, but also very expensive — about $15,000 each,” he said. “We simply could not have acquired them without the contributions from our community. We want to thank every single person and business that has donated and supported this cause.

“Their generosity is helping to save lives.”

The station is now looking to raise funds necessary to purchases a couple more Lucas devices for its two other non-equipped ambulances, part of its overall mission to update equipment and training.

A news release from Station 64 Support Services Director Jeanette Havel explained the importance of having Lucas in an ambulance.

“These devices can save the lives of sudden cardiac arrest patients and avoid neurological damage by supplying a consistent circulation of blood through the body and brain.

“Automated CPR devices are more efficient than manual compressions because they can be set for the optimum depth, run tirelessly even when the ambulance is in motion, and they allow EMTs and paramedics to provide other necessary medical services.”

Station 64 Ambulance Service Director Bradley Golsch can vouch for the Lucas since a device at the Hartly Volunteer Fire Company has run without an issue there for six years.

“I’m a member of the Hartly company and the best thing I can say about Lucas is that it has staying power.”

Mr. Golsh also believes the Lucas can spare responders some of the physical toll that comes with performing CPR, along with lessening the emotional stress coming from hands on care of a patient.

More information about Station 64 and its fundraising campaign is available online at www.Ambulance64.com.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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