LUCAS, is a chest compression machine system that can perform CPR (KEIZERTIMES/Lauren Murphy).

Last month, Keizer Fire District (KFD) introduced the newest member of its team, LUCAS; a chest compression system to assist in calls involving CPR.

LUCAS, which stands for Lund University Cardiopulmonary Assist System, is a piece of equipment that costs nearly $16,000 and was purchased with money from the 2015 Equipment Bond.

“It encircles the chest of a cardiac arrest victim and utilizes aplunger” to provide chest compressions at the correct depth and rate,” said Brian Butler, who is the Division Chief of Operations for KFD.

LUCAS can provide compressions for up to 45 minutes; there is a second battery in case a paitent needs more time, but Butler said that is not usually the case.

“The machine auto-corrects for chest size and resistance providing for the correct depth of compressions,” Butler said. This makes it more accurate and helpful than human compressions.

In addition to adjusting to chest size and resistance, it also provides continuous chest compressions – resulting in better perfusion of blood to critical organs like the brain and heart.

“We also have to move cardiac arrest patients several times. From where they are found to where we are going to try to revive them, from where we try to revive them to the medic unit and from the medic unit to the emergency department,” Butler said. 

LUCAS gives compressions while a patient is being moved: down staris, in an elevator, or anywhere else that would result in less than ideal conditions for human CPR.

“Currently, a normal medical call gets five responders while a cardiac arrest call gets eight,” Butler said. 

With a LUCAS stationed on all three Keizer Fire ambulances, less responders are required for a cardiac arrest calls.

“This can also free up other firefighters and EMTs to assist in planning for and moving the patient, providing comfort to family members on scene or starting IV’s, administering medications, intubating, etc.” he said.

When a cardiac arrest patient is being transported to the hospital they send five firefighters: one to drive, one to be the paramedic-in-charge, one ventilating the patient and two alternating chest compressions. 

“By utilizing LUCAS, we will no longer have to send personnel to the (emergency department) to provide chest compressions,” Butler said.

The benefits of only sending three firefighters are twofold. It allows two firemen to return to service and be ready for another calls and excludes the exhausting and dangerous job of doing CPR in a traveling medic unit.

 “First, these personnel can return to service and be available for other calls for service. And second, having two firefighters standing in the back of a medic unit doing CPR while the medic unit is traveling down the road is dangerous and physically exhausting,” Butler said. “LUCAS eliminates this dangerous burden on our firefighters.”

Salem Health has utilized the LUCAS machine as well, which helps the transfering the patient in a more seamless manner.

LUCAS is intended for adult patients, though Butler said if the device fits around the patient LUCAS is safe to use.

Just like human CPR, there is about a 30 percent chance of broken or separated ribs with LUCAS. 

“The patient may still experience some separated or broken ribs, but this is in no way a reason not to do CPR on a person without a pulse,” Butler said.