BAR HARBOR — Performing CPR is hard work.
In order to get a stopped heart to move blood around and deliver oxygen to the brain, compressions are supposed to be at a rate of 100-120 per minute, and at a depth of at least two inches. Providers often have to take turns as they become fatigued.
The paramedics and EMTs at the Bar Harbor Fire Department have a new tool that will help with that problem. It’s a mechanical CPR device that delivers continuous chest compressions at the correct rate and depth.
The device, a Lucas 3, fits over the patient’s chest and connects to a small back board that can be gently slipped under the patient’s head and moved down to the correct position during a pause in manual chest compressions.
The device enables caregivers “to focus on other life-saving tasks” and may “speed diagnosis and treatment of underlying conditions,” according to materials from the company.
“The whole idea is to minimize stopping compressions,” said Jon Zumwalt, one of the department’s paramedics.
Only a few EMS services in the state have a mechanical CPR device, and Bar Harbor is the only one in northern and eastern Maine to have one. The idea came about at a meeting of Mount Desert Island emergency medical providers and MDI Hospital staff.
The fire department applied for and received a $20,0000 grant from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation for the device. Firefighter/EMT Jeremy Ogden prepared the grant application.
New protocols for “prehospital treatment” released by Maine Emergency Medical Services in December 2019 include use of mechanical CPR devices. First responders from other agencies are also being trained in the use of the device, including police, park rangers and hospital staff, according to Assistant Fire Chief John Lennon.