6-Feb-2023 Source: Air Methods
With February being American Heart Month, crew members at AirLift 5 in Weslaco are proud to have recently added the LUCAS chest compression system to their aircraft to help provide lifesaving efforts during transports, especially when a patient is experiencing cardiac arrest. LUCAS is an automatic chest compression device that provides an accurate rate and depth for patients experiencing cardiac arrest when CPR is required, strengthening the chance of patient survival and recovery.
As heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women, AirLift 5 crew members see firsthand how it impacts their communities. With AirLift 5 being the only air medical provider in the entire Rio Grande Valley, serving across four counties, having the LUCAS on the aircraft is instrumental when transporting patients at risk of potential cardiac arrest.
“Having this device on an aircraft could be the difference between life or death when we transport a patient experiencing cardiac arrest,” said Clinical Base Lead and Flight Nurse T.J. Lopez. “Given the space constraints on a helicopter, if a patient starts experiencing cardiac arrest, it is extremely challenging for us to successfully perform CPR without this device.”
As a routine procedure, crew members will proactively place the LUCAS on the patient prior to transport in the helicopter, if they are aware of prior cardiac arrests or know that they are at risk of cardiac arrest. Therefore, if the patient suffers from cardiac arrest in flight, they can simply press a button on the LUCAS to begin chest compressions. This allows the crew to remain safely secured in their seat belts versus trying to perform chest compressions in the close confines of the helicopter while also preparing to land at the closest hospital.
“If we didn’t have the ability to adequately perform high-quality CPR when required during the flight, we would have to land at the closest hospital along our route,” said Air Methods Regional Clinical Director Eric Connor. “CPR would be then be provided from a seated position, which does not allow the best body mechanics for ensuring appropriate rate and depth of compressions. With the LUCAS, we rest assured that we are providing the patient proper CPR when needed.”
The LUCAS, which costs up to $20,000, was added to AirLift 5’s aircraft this month and is available for use in every transport.