9-Feb-2023 Source: Air Methods
As February is American Heart Month, crew members at AirLIFE Uvalde proudly serve their communities knowing they have the equipment and ability to save patient lives, even more so if the patient is experiencing cardiac arrest.
AirLIFE Uvalde is the only air medical provider in the region to have a LUCAS CPR device on its aircraft. The LUCAS chest compression system provides an accurate rate and depth of chest compressions 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, AirLIFE Uvalde crew members see firsthand how heart disease impacts their communities.
“Having this device on an aircraft can be the difference between life or death when we’re transporting patients experiencing cardiac arrest,” said Clinical Base Lead and Flight Paramedic Joel Ramirez, who’s been with AirLIFE in Uvalde for nearly a decade. “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 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 perform high-quality CPR when required during the en route phase of the transport for a patient suffering from cardiac arrest then we would have to land at the closest hospital along our route,” said Air Methods/AirLIFE Regional Clinical Director Eric Connor. “CPR would be provided from a seated position, which does not allow the best body mechanics for ensuring appropriate rate and depth of compressions.”
AirLIFE in Uvalde is the only air medical provider in the region that currently has this device, life-saving equipment that costs up to $20,000, available for use in their aircraft.