Hands-free CPR: See it in action

Medical Watch

MOUNT PROSPECT, Ill. — An automated device is helping first responders in the field and offers a hands-off approach to saving a life.

With CPR, first responders typically take turns administering chest compressions because it can be so taxing. Now, there’s some extra pumping power on board the ambulance.

At the busiest fire station in  Mount Prospect, crews respond to about 18 calls a day, mostly medical needs. When it’s a cardiac arrest – paramedics start with manual CPR. 

Fatigue is a factor.

Brian Lambel is the chief of the fire department.

“Everybody gets fatigued,” he said. “You can only go for so long and the protocols before was a constant rotation of personnel. After a minute or two, you bring somebody else in.   … When you first start out you’re providing those compressions and you don’t realize as time goes on 30, 40, a minute – you start to slow down or maybe your depth isn’t the same or you’re not consistent.”

But now within a minute or so, another steady and powerful force takes over.

“The device is an automatic compression device used for CPR,” Lambel said. “It takes the place of a person doing chest compressions.”

With the automated device in place, the paramedics are freed up and focused on the patient’s other needs. Mount Prospect fire department ems coordinator Susie Bagdade and her team showed WGN the technology in action.

“The idea of the compression is to circulate the blood because the heart isn’t pumping,” Lambel said. “So you are now pumping the heart through the compression. The rate and the depth is very important. This device provides that constant same rate, same depth throughout the process.”

The department purchased four of the automated CPR devices with the help of a grant. Each ambulance in circulation has one on board. The device stays on the patient – pumping all the way to the hospital.

“Early CPR is a key factor of being able to save somebody,” Lambel said. “The device is just some part of that. Whether it’s the device or someone manually doing compressions the outcome most likely will be the same.”

Save rates among ems services across the northwest suburbs are about 43 percent when it comes to cardiac arrest. That’s well above the national average. And, as always, bystanders who jump into action to perform CPR can help make a save.

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