Arlington Fire Department Adding More LUCAS Devices to Help Save Cardiac Arrest Patients
By Haaris Ahmed, Office of Communication
Posted on July 12, 2022, July 12, 2022

For a cardiac arrest patient, every second without medical intervention matters. In an effort to help even more residents and visitors survive a heart attack, the Arlington Fire Department is putting technology to work by adding innovative machines, known as LUCAS devices, to their medical tool kits.

Arriving on the scene, firefighters may have many procedures to do, including assessing the patient’s status, securing an airway, starting IVs, discussing the use of a cardiac defibrillator, and most importantly, beginning chest compressions. Chest compressions can be exhaustive and require multiple providers switching out every two minutes to maintain a consistent beat. These essential compressions may need to be done on the move as well, while firefighters are transporting a patient through a house or into the back of an ambulance.

The LUCAS Device is the answer to the physical difficulties that come with compressions, Arlington fire officials say. The halo-shaped device wraps around the patient, where a battery-operated suction cup attaches to the patient’s chest and provides consistent chest compressions. With various settings, it merely takes a press of a button from the operator to achieve the action, said EMS Lt. Jason Adams with the Arlington Fire Department.

“Continuous compressions are the key to keeping the body and vital organs perfuse. This increases the survival outcomes for our patients,” Adams said. “It does one hundred and two compressions a minute and it doesn't get tired. It never stops unless we hit stop. So, it is one of those very effective tools.”

The Arlington Fire Department began purchasing the devices in 2021, and although early in use, Lt. Adams said they are already helping to make a difference. Last year, the Fire Department saw a record of 51 cardiac arrest survivors. With contributions of funds from the CARES Act, the Fire Department expects to have 37 of these devices located throughout Arlington by the end of this summer.

“We have put them in service all across the city. Every fire district has one right now and each stadium has its own LUCAS device,” Lt. Adams said. “Every fire apparatus will have one hopefully within the next month or two.”

Click here to view the Arlington Fire Department’s FY 2021 Annual Report to learn more about cardiac arrest saves and other department news.

Lt. Adams said the devices improve safety for first responders as well, allowing them to remain seated with seatbelts during patient transport.

The Lund University Cardiopulmonary Assist System (LUCAS) device was first developed at the end of the 1990’s in Sweden to better improve the efficacy of chest compressions. The device has been reported with an >99% operational reliability and a median 7-second when transitioning from manual to LUCAS mechanical chest compressions.

Arlington Fire Lt. Jason Adams demonstrates how a LUCAS device works.

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