Rescue Squad brings new life-saving device to community

Published 8:11 pm Sunday, May 21, 2017

When it comes to saving lives, having the right training and the right equipment can make all the difference.

The Carter County Rescue Squad recently purchased some specialized life-saving equipment that will be making its way into the community in the coming days.

The AutoPulse units will perform CPR chest compressions by automation on patients. The new devices provide a number of benefits and advantages over traditional CPR according to CCRS IT Administrator Jeff Francisco.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“When we do compressions, any time we pause for a second or anything like that there’s a drop in your circulation and your pressure,” Francisco said. “This does continuous compressions.”

The machines can be set up to pause after 30 compressions to allow medical personnel to perform rescue breaths or it can be set to perform continuous compressions.

“It frees you up to do other things such as start IVs, or intubate a patient, or give medicines.”

And, unlike a person doing CPR, the machine does not tire, and it keeps up a consistent and proper rhythm.

The units feature a hard board that straps to a patient’s back. This provides the firm surface needed for chest compressions to be effective. The patient is harnessed to the board to prevent it from moving. An adjustable band is then strapped across the patient’s chest at the proper location for CPR compressions. The machine then contracts and releases the band causing the chest to compress and expand, which causes the heart to pump blood throughout the body.

“It provides 80 percent of the heart’s normal circulation,” Francisco said of the AutoPulse unit. “According to statistics you get a much better save rate than you do with regular CPR.”

An added benefit of the device is its portability and compact design.

“We can take it in the woods or anywhere we can go,” Francisco said.

The unit comes with a sling style stretcher which will allow rescuers to carry a patient while the machine continues to perform CPR. The sling style stretcher allows medical personnel to transport a patient through narrow corridors and around tight corners where a traditional stretcher or backboard is difficult or impossible to safely navigate.

The unit can also be used on medical helicopters like Wings Air Rescue. Because of the confined space on a  helicopter, medical personnel can’t perform CPR during medical flights.

Francisco said the AutoPulse units can be used during medical flights and the Rescue Squad has already started working with Wings Air Rescue for training with the devices.

The AutoPulse units can be used for adults and adolescents, but not for children, Francisco said. In order for the machine to function, the patient’s chest must measure at least 29 inches, he explained.

The Rescue Squad has purchased three of the AutoPulse units. One will be placed on a truck at the main station on Stoney Creek, one at the Hampton substation, and one at the Roan Mountain substation. Francisco said the department hopes to be able to purchase more units in the future.

“Everybody has already been trained,” Francisco said. The Rescue Squad has been working out equipment placement details on the trucks, but Francisco said the new devices should be out serving the community “within the next couple of days.”