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Lifesaving Tool 'The Lucas'

November 9, 2010, 6:09 PM by Kelli Grant

Lifesaving Tool 'The Lucas'
SIOUX FALLS, SD - It can happen anytime and anywhere. Your heart just stops. When it happens, patients have little time to survive, which is why knowing CPR is so important. But something called The Lucas is being used in KELOLAND and is helping maximize that lifesaving tool.

It's doing all the work for you, chest compression after chest compression after chest compression.

"Lucas delivers consistent, continuous compressions to the chest. And it goes at 100 times a minute and the depth is approximately two inches and that is what the American Heart Association recommends for CPR," Avera Heart Hospital Emergency Department Director Jean Skonhovd said.

Skonhovd says when a patient arrives at the hospital's emergency room, or if they code as an in-patient, the machine is used to circulate blood and oxygen in their body.

Manual CPR is always started, but Lucas can help finish this life saving job.

"If anyone has done CPR, you know how tiring it is. And if I do CPR and you do CPR and someone else does CPR, it's different each time because I may be stronger than you, larger than you. The other person may be stronger than me. And those chest compressions are never quite the same," Skonhovd said.

It runs on compressed air. And while it's running, medications can be delivered to the patient. They can even be wheeled into surgery.

"In our rooms, we have compressed air piped into the walls and if you were in an ambulance or if you wanted to move the patient from room to room with it still going, we have a small air tank that we take," Skonhovd said.

A defibrillator interrupts manual CPR, but it can be used while the Lucas is running.

Skonhovd says even though it's saving lives, Lucas doesn't replace CPR all together.

"Lucas, you can't do it just anywhere. I mean you have to have compressed air to run it. I think there are new ones that have batteries that they run on. So it is very important that people learn how to do CPR," Skonhovd said.

Because it is very expensive, very few ambulance services and hospitals across the country have the Lucas on board.

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