The Breezy Point Police Department recently purchased a device that should make the life of a paramedic a little easier as they try to save someone else's.
The department purchased its second LUCAS 2 Chest Compression System, allowing each of Breezy Point's two officer/paramedics - Jason Reiber and Josef Garcia - to keep one with them at all times.
The device performs chest compressions consistently, allowing the officer/paramedics to do something else - such as hooking up a heart monitor or performing an endotracheal intubation.
"This, in essence, does as close to perfect CPR as you can get," Reiber said. "The big advantage for us is that we don't get fatigued doing it, so the CPR is consistent. Everything is exact and mathematical ...This is so simplistic, I can walk family members - if they are willing to help - through putting this on while I'm doing something else."
The LUCAS 2 consists of two pieces, a backplate that rests under the individual and an arch-like compression device that sets over an individual's chest and compresses with a plunger-like arm that thrusts into the sternum. On the device are three buttons that are numbered in the order they are to be pressed.
"It is so simplistic, even a cop can use it," police chief Kevin Merschman said jokingly.
With this device in place, paramedics and first responders are still able to move individuals onto ambulance cots or into a helicopter, and compressions can still be performed while in transit.
The compressions the device performs are deep enough to potentially cause minor injuries, but Merschman and Reiber indicated that was normal and necessary.
"A big misconception, especially for new first responders, is that CPR is clean," Reiber said. "It is not, especially when you get into older people with osteoporosis and things like that. With that first compression, you are going to break ribs ... Broken ribs are a complication of CPR and they can happen any time, but either you have a broken rib or you cease to breathe. I figure that is the lesser of two evils."
The cost of the LUCAS 2 was roughly $14,000, which for the department was made up entirely of donations collected over the course of several months. While no specific incident led them to buy their first of these devices in late 2012, they saw the merits of having them at their disposal.
"Joe (Garcia) and I work at night, and we are oftentimes alone," Reiber said. "When the first responders of the area have to get out of bed, get dressed and get in their truck ... There are times when we are on scene by ourselves for five to seven minutes before another person can get there to join us. The ability to do more than compressions for these people while we wait for another responder or the ambulance was one of the things considered when we purchased this."
Though the device has the potential to smooth over the life-saving process, Reiber indicated the role of everyone who arrives on scene in an emergency is no less important than it has ever been.
"We (paramedics) are only one piece of the puzzle," Reiber said. "There is an entire chain of survival, and everybody that responds fills a role. Everybody that comes to the scene is doing something. Without everybody working together ... we may not have the same outcome."
More information on the LUCAS 2 Chest Compression System can be found on the Breezy Point Police Department Facebook page.
Anyone interested in learning how to perform hands-only CPR or how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED) are encouraged to call Reiber at the police department.