published Sunday, April 28th, 2013

Marion County ambulance service seeks life-saving devices

Lt. Andrew Condrey, operations manager with Puckett EMS Inc., demonstrates the LUCAS chest compression system for Marion County commissioners. The ambulance service wants the device, which provides uninterrupted chest compressions to patients in cardiac arrest, to help raise survival rates. 
Photo by Ryan Lewis
Lt. Andrew Condrey, operations manager with Puckett EMS Inc., demonstrates the LUCAS chest compression system for Marion County commissioners. The ambulance service wants the device, which provides uninterrupted chest compressions to patients in cardiac arrest, to help raise survival rates. Photo by Ryan Lewis

JASPER, Tenn. — A new life-saving technology will be coming to Marion County soon.

Officials with Puckett EMS Inc. in Austell, Ga., which provides the county's ambulance service, want to use a machine called the LUCAS Chest Compression System to raise survival rates.

LUCAS stands for Lund University Cardiac Assist System. The device provides uninterrupted chest compressions to a patient in cardiac arrest to maintain circulation.

Shane Garrison, vice president of Puckett EMS, and Lt. Andrew Condrey, Puckett operations manager, recently demonstrated the device to the Marion County Commission.

Garrison said CPR instructors teach that 100 chest compressions per minute are a very important part of resuscitation.

"They don't worry a lot about providing the ventilations," he said. "As an advanced-level provider, [EMTs] have some additional steps, but for the layperson CPR provider, it's just as easy as pushing hard and pushing fast."

But it's hard to keep up constant compressions for an extended time, he said, and that's where the LUCAS system comes in.

"We want to get our survival rate up there with the best communities out there," Garrison said. "I really feel in my heart that this is one of those pieces of technology that we could employ."

The survival rate for cardiac arrest cases in Seattle, Wash., was raised from 19 percent to 47 percent with the help of this machine, he said.

The devices normally cost $14,000 each, but Puckett officials said they can buy them for about $10,000 each.

Garrison said Puckett wants to raise enough money to place three LUCAS devices in the county.

He asked commissioners for support but not money.

Officials said Puckett has promises for donations to buy the devices, and Grandview Medical Center in Jasper has pledged enough money to buy one machine.

The system is "certainly worth this community's investment," Condrey said. "I don't know what your price is on a human life, but I can't put a dollar amount on it."

The devices will not belong to Puckett, Garrison said.

"If we ever leave here, these are Marion County pieces of equipment," he said. "That's the way we see it, and they stay if we ever go anywhere."

Puckett's EMTs are skilled professionals, Condrey said, but they need the kind of help a LUCAS system can provide.

"They're strong," he said. "They've got broad shoulders, but they aren't that strong. This is another life-saver, and it will belong to the county."

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.

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