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Chest compression machine sought by ATFD

Addison EMS Coordinator Marilyn Szost (left) demonstrates manual chest compessions as Addison Fire Assistant Chief John Beach ventilates the patient. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
August 20, 2014 - Addison Township's fire department is nearly halfway to its goal of raising enough funds to purchase a life-saving piece of emergency medical equipment.

Thanks to the generosity of the Four County Community Foundation, based in Almont, and Precision Pipeline, based in Wisconsin, the department has $7,500 to put toward the purchase of an Auto Pulse system.

Auto Pulse is a machine that performs chest compressions on patients as part of Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). It replaces the need to have fire personnel perform them manually.

"We're very grateful for what we've received and we're just hoping to get some more (funding)," said Assistant Chief John Beach, who's been with the department for 15 years.

Between the unit itself, the batteries and accessories, the department needs to raise a total of $15,679 in order to add this vital piece of equipment to its arsenal.

"Compressions are so important to keep that blood flowing (through the body), to keep the brain and the heart alive (in order) to have a viable patient at the end," explained Addison EMS Coordinator Marilyn Szost.

Utilizing a band that wraps around the chest cavity, the Auto Pulse machine can deliver continuous compressions at a depth and rate that is more consistent and effective than the manual efforts of emergency personnel.

Basically, unlike people, the machine doesn't get tired.

"Studies have demonstrated that after two minutes, rescuers fatigue, resulting in less effective compressions," according to the grant application Addison submitted to the Four County Community Foundation.

Szost noted the Auto Pulse machine delivers higher quality compressions than a person can give because it's "compressing the entire thoracic (or chest) cavity," which results in "complete decompression" that causes the blood "to flow back in again."

"It allows for more complete filling and emptying of the blood vessels," she said. "When you're doing it manually, you're only compressing one part (of the chest)."

The Auto Pulse machine is able to administer uninterrupted chest compressions to the patient as he or she is extracted from the scene and placed into the ambulance or taken from the ambulance to a hospital bed.

It would also help keep the blood circulating during Addison's lengthy ambulance transports, which average between 20 and 30 minutes. The closest hospital is 20 minutes away "on a good day," according to the grant application.

"The Auto Pulse maintains the compression rate and (keeps) the heart pumping the entire time (during the rescue effort) and that's really important," Szost said. "You never want your heart to stop."

In Addison's case, the Auto Pulse machine would also help make up for staff shortages by eliminating the need to have two responders per incident dedicated to delivering chest compressions and rotating every two minutes.

"Sometimes we don't have enough responders show up to the scene to immediately perform all the interventions that are really needed in order to give the patient the best opportunity for a recovery," Szost explained. "The Auto Pulse frees everybody up (to help in other ways)."

With an Auto Pulse machine, the fire department would be able to transport patients to the hospital with one less responder in the ambulance.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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