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Automatic CPR machines are helping local EMTs save lives

09/10/2016 12:00 PM |


It takes about five minutes of performing continuous CPR until a person starts to get tired, said Greenport firefighter Mike Richter. After that, they might not push deep enough or consistently enough, he said.

But a new device purchased by the Greenport Fire Department using donated money from Peconic Landing — which is also now in use by other fire departments on the North Fork — is helping to solve that problem. 

At a public demonstration Friday evening, Greenport Fire Department volunteers showed how they use a LUCAS automatic CPR machine that can autonomously deliver consistent chest compressions, freeing up volunteers to do other life-saving work on the patient.

The device works by snapping into a baseboard that’s positioned under the patient’s chest. A suction-like plunger on the end of a piston then delivers either the 30 chest compressions recommended by the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association or continuous compressions to revive patients who have been intubated, Mr. Richter said.

“The machine’s a little more efficient than what we can do as an individual,” added fire chief Wade Miller.

The ability to leave the compressions to a machine that will never tire can be a game-changer for local first responders, he added. The device can also be left on the patient during transport or at a hospital to continue attempts to restart circulation.

The CPR machine can fit most people, Mr. Richter said, even those who are obese, so long as their chest can fit under the machine.

Fire chief Jeff Weigart said the machine can even be left to operate at a 45-degree angle, making it easier to revive patients as they are being carried down stairs or up steep inclines. The batteries on the device can power 30 minutes of continuous CPR each, and all of the autonomous CPR machines come with two batteries.

Mr. Richter said results so far using the machine have been mixed in Greenport. The machine was able to stabilize one individual so they could be transported to a local hospital, but that patient later died, he said. However, one volunteer said the device had been used by another department and was successful.

One device was purchased using money from the department’s budget, Mr. Richter said. Greenport received another of the devices — which cost $20,000 each — last month using donated money from Peconic Landing’s May Mile, said Darryl Volinski, director of environmental services at Peconic Landing.

“They don’t take a break,” Mr. Volinski said in honoring the volunteers. “It’s 24 hours and they’re here to protect our residents and our guests that come here at Peconic Landing.”

Photo caption: Volunteers with the Greenport Fire Department demonstrate an automatic CPR machine at Peconic Landing Friday afternoon. (Credit: Paul Squire)