Meriden FD requests two more mechanical CPR devices 

MERIDEN — The city’s fire department is one of a growing number nationwide to equip its personnel with a mechanical chest compression device for cardiac arrest calls.

The Meriden Fire Department has two LUCAS 3 chest compression systems manufactured by the medical technology firm Stryker.

The machines, transported like a backpack by a first responder, provide continuous cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

At the same time, the devices promise to reduce fatigue on first responders while administering CPR.

Meriden Fire Deputy Chief Ryan Dunn said the department deployed its first two LUCAS 3 devices in late 2020.

The department has submitted a request to use $40,858 in American Rescue Plan Act funds to purchase two more devices, including cases, back plates, straps, suction cups, rechargeable batteries and battery chargers. The request is pending approval by the City Council.

Kevin Ferrarotti, the administrative director for Hunter’s Ambulance, feels the devices are superior to even well-administered manual CPR. It’s difficult even for medical professionals to consistently deliver CPR over an extended period, he added.

“You wear over time. You get tired. The depth and consistency of that compression will constantly vary,” Ferrarotti said.

The mechanical device will eliminate “human error and variability” Ferrarotti said.

The devices are used by Hunter’s Ambulance as well as other agencies — including the Wallingford and Waterbury fire departments.

A study of the devices published in 2021 by the National Institutes of Health found that they are not generally associated with improved patient resuscitation, although it stated they could be “more beneficial in non-ideal situations such as lack of bystander CPR, unwitnessed arrest and delayed EMS response times.”

The study states optimal chest compression would be performed at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute, with each compression reaching a depth of at least five centimeters.

The study found the use of devices did not lead to improved resuscitation rates, although “it improves the quality of CPR.”

The study’s authors recommended the availability of the devices “as insurance against fatigue, lack of manpower, and other situations in the field precluding early initiation of high-quality manual CPR.”

Ferrarotti and Dunn said their respective agencies have had success using the devices.

“We’ve had very good success on cardiac arrests,” Ferrarotti said.

However, he acknowledged a factor that hinders the ability of different departments to acquire these devices is the cost.

“They’re very expensive,” Ferrarotti said, adding, “Anytime you can get a grant for these types of devices, you want to take full advantage of it. Getting that grant funding is key.”

Training is also key.

Ferrarotti said Hunter’s works collaboratively with the Meriden Fire Department on training.

Dunn acknowledged while the devices do require special training, the benefits are worth it.

“What it does allow for is consistent high quality chest compressions,” Dunn said. “You don’t have to change out a rescuer.”

According to current CPR standards, personnel administering manual compressions must switch every two minutes.

“Whereas with this device you don’t have to. It leads to consistent depth of compressions, consistent rhythm of compression, which leads to better oxygen profusion throughout the body, particularly to the heart muscle, cardiac tissue, and brain tissue,” Dunn said.

Right now Engine Company 2 on the city’s west side at 168 Chamberlain Highway, and Engine Company 5, at 1075 E. Main St. are the only two engine companies equipped with the devices.

Fire officials hope to equip Engine Company 4 in the north end and Engine Company 1 in South Meriden.

Since the first two devices were acquired, the Meriden Fire Department has used them 69 times.

Dunn said the department has already seen a 10% improvement in patient viability — increasing overall changes of restoring heart function and patient survival.



More From This Section