HOWLAND – With timely response, and immediate, effective care crucial in the fight to save the lives of residents suffering from cardiac arrest, the local fire department is continuing to search for ways to stack the odds in their favor.

On Tuesday, November 19, a representative from Resuscitation International visited the Howland team to demonstrate a mechanical compression device – a machine that performs compressions on a patient to keep them alive in the event of heart failure.

“A big campaign across the nation is good, quality CPR saves lives,” Howland Fire Chief Josh McNally said during a Monday interview.

He explained a challenge facing those trying to save lives is the effort required to perform CPR. He said a person needs to compress the chest one to two inches at a rate of 100 compressions per minute.

“People get tired,” he said.

Currently, in order to guarantee a patient has the best chance at survival, five or more rescue personnel have to be dispatched to a call to perform “pit crew type CPR.” Once a patient is revived, they have to remain alive long enough to be transported to a hospital without continuous compressions. The mechanical pump, however, could remain on and working while the victim rides in the back of an ambulance.

“Paramedics provide you with the same treatment as you would get in a hospital emergency room,” McNally said. “We can pronounce death in the field.”

“With this device, we are able to keep you alive and transport you to the hospital.”

The device is not without it’s hefty price tag. McNally said the cost is estimated at $10,000 per unit.

“Right now, we are just researching it,” he said, adding there are plans to purchase one in the future. “We don’t have the money right now to buy these, but this is the next step.”

Cardiac response is a big concern for a department that covers such a rural area, as first responders to an emergency can be the only ones standing between life and death. One way the team has improved survival chances is by investing in othe technology, like the cardiac monitors in the ambulances.

McNally said the monitors are synced to “puck” that is placed on the patient’s chest. Compressions are then conducted on the puck, and the monitor is able to determine the quality of the compressions.

“We are trying to stay on the cutting edge of the nation,” he said. “We are trying to increase the survival rates of our patients.”

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