A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Nine months and 81,468 compressions later, the Stryker LUCAS has proved its worth in lives saved

In the old days, it wasn’t unusual for paramedics from the Covington Fire Department to find themselves standing in the back of a speeding ambulance administering chest compressions on a patient in cardiac arrest … while at the same time trying to keep from being knocked off their feet and head-first into their own injuries.

The experience was not unlike, say, riding a mechanical bull while drinking a beverage and friends throw pocket change at you … or water-skiing on the Ohio River eating a fully loaded slice of pizza while a passing towboat’s churning screw kicks up ferocious waves.

Covington Fire Department has seven Stryker LUCAS 3 devices for perfect CPR

“Not the best of situations for either the paramedic or the patient,” Covington Assistant Fire Chief David Geiger said.

Today, however, Covington’s paramedics deploy the Stryker LUCAS 3.

The mechanical chest compression device – or mCPR – does the work of two to three responders on a cardiac arrest patient while administering “perfect” and uninterrupted chest compressions, entirely consistent in frequency, depth, and position.

“It doesn’t get tired, it doesn’t need to trade places with a fellow responder, it can’t get COVID from the patient, and it doesn’t need to ‘hold on’ during the harried trip to the hospital,” Geiger said. “This allows the care providers to be seated and belted during the transport, focusing on managing the airway, administering medications, and delivering any needed electrical shocks to the heart, all the while the device is delivering consistent and continuous chest compressions.”

Using a grant from the Kentucky Fire Commission, the Covington Fire Department recently purchased a seventh device and used the occasion to take stock of the devices’ performance in Covington after nine months of use.

Analysis found the devices:

• Were employed 39 times.

• Operated a collective 14 hours, 48 minutes, and 34 seconds.

• Administered a total of 81,468 compressions.

• And helped 18 of the 39 cardiac arrest patients achieve “ROSC,” or return of spontaneous circulation.

In other words, Geiger said, the resuscitation “worked,” with the patients’ hearts beating on their own again as they were delivered to a hospital for care.

“That’s a much higher percentage and a marked increase from what we’ve traditionally seen in the past,” he said. “They’ve worked exactly how we’ve wanted them to – helping us achieve better outcomes for cardiac patients while helping to keep our providers safer.”

It wasn’t just the “compressions” administered by the mechanical CPR devices that led to those outcomes.
The devices themselves are a “force multiplier,” Geiger said, freeing providers on the scene to devote themselves to other aspects of emergency response and giving them time to make less-rushed decisions on that care. With the devices deployed, the ambulances stay a little longer on the scene while that response is implemented.

In so doing, the LUCAS 3 devices helped as the EMS Division transitioned to a “Pit Crew” model with predesignated tasks during a cardiac arrest – much like members of a NASCAR or Indy Car pit crew are assigned to changing tires or refueling – as a way to increase speed and efficiency.

“We never stop looking at ways to save lives and to save them in a way that lets people return to a normal or near-normal life,” Geiger said.

The six devices bought last summer were placed on the City’s five ambulances with another used for special event details. The newest device will be placed on Pumper 5 in South Covington.

City of Covington

Related Posts

Leave a Comment