South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) is the first in the country to rollout a new device which can perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on a patient automatically – freeing up paramedics to carry out other vital interventions.
The state-of-the-art technology, known as LUCAS 3, is a mechanical system which can deliver high quality chest compressions consistently from the moment crews arrive on scene and throughout a patient’s journey to hospital without interruption.
It is an upgraded version of the previous model – LUCAS 2 – which clinicians at SCAS evaluated in 2014 as part of the PARAMEDIC trial led by the University of Warwick and published in journal The Lancet.
The rollout of the new equipment has been made possible by South Central Ambulance Charity, which is funding 28 of the devices to support crews across Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Hampshire.
The system comes complete with wireless Bluetooth connectivity which makes it possible to configure compression rate, depth and alerts specific to an organisation’s resuscitation guidelines. It also means it can collect data which can be reviewed post-event and shared with other clinicians.
Emergency services attempt resuscitation in around 30,000 cardiac arrests – when the heart stops pumping blood around the body and to the brain – outside of hospital in the UK every year.
CPR is essential to maintaining blood and oxygen flow around the body while a person is unconscious and not breathing whether performed manually or with a mechanical device.
Once paramedics arrive and begin CPR or take over from bystanders who may have initiated it, the transition from manual compressions to LUCAS can be completed within seven seconds, ensuring continuity of compressions.
“We know that delivering high quality and uninterrupted chest compressions in cardiac arrest is one of the major determinants of survival to hospital discharge but it can be very challenging for a number of reasons,” said Dr John Black, Medical Director at SCAS.
“People can become fatigued when performing CPR manually which then affects the rate and quality of compressions and patients may need to be moved from difficult locations, such as down a narrow flight of stairs, or remote places which impedes the process.
“There are also significant safety risks to ambulance personnel being unrestrained and performing CPR in the back of vehicles travelling at high speed.
“These devices don’t fatigue or change the delivery in any way, meaning high quality CPR can be delivered for as long as is required while freeing up the paramedic, keeping them seated and belted and able to focus on other critical aspects of patient care on a journey.
“It ultimately acts as a robotic third crew member for our teams.”
LUCAS devices are also used for resuscitation in hospital emergency departments and to support patients in cardiac arrest in intensive care units, as well for patients undergoing life-saving coronary balloon angioplasty and stenting procedures to widen narrowed arteries.
Professor Charles Deakin, Divisional Medical Director for SCAS and lead for resuscitation, added: “The LUCAS device transforms the management at a cardiac arrest and allows paramedics to focus on the key aspects of clinical care.
“It will be an invaluable part of the team and contribute to the already outstanding results that SCAS has achieved in saving lives of these patients.”
Vanessa Casey, Chief Executive of South Central Ambulance Charity, said: “We are really pleased to be able to fund this state-of-the-art equipment and want to thank our donors – patients, staff, communities and businesses – as well as NHS Charities Together for making it possible.”