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Lucas II is a valuable tool for rural rescue

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RUSSELL — The Lucas II, a battery-driven chest compressor, could be the best friend a patient and a rural emergency medical technician ever had.

The Lucas II runs continuously for 45 minutes, never misses a beat and takes a recharge while still performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

The Russell Fire Department and Rescue Squad is the first in the north country to purchase one, Chief Harvey A. Thomas said.

“We’ve had it two months and used it twice,” he said. “To me, it’s worth its weight in gold.”

The advantage of the Lucas II is that it delivers automated compressions from the moment it is strapped on in the field to ambulance transport and into the hospital. It regulates consistent blood flow, which helps improve a patient’s chance for survival. It allows for defibrillation without having to be removed.

CPR is never interrupted while the Lucas II is running.

“That’s what you need,” said Donald D. Thompson, the coordinator of EMT education at SUNY Canton.

The Lucas II weighs 17.2 pounds and comes in a backpack that can be carried to remote locations.

From the point of view of EMTs, it saves them from trying to perform CPR — an exhausting exercise when done manually for any length of time — while an ambulance is racing to a hospital. That is particularly of value when the nearest hospital is at least a half hour away, as in Russell’s case.

“We bought it because of the distance we have to travel,” said Mr. Thomas’s wife, Iris F., the department’s secretary and an EMT.

The Lucas II could save on workers’ compensation costs because it takes over some of the rigorous physical work required of EMTs, so injuries such as wrenched backs are less common, Mr. Thomas said.

The machine sells for more than $15,000 but Russell got a break on the price for $12,500 so it could demonstrate the machine around the area, Mrs. Thomas said. The Hermon department saw it and already has plans for a Lucas II of its own, she said.

After Russell officials saw the machine at a conference, they spent two years raising money for the purchase.

“Ninety percent of the money came from donations,” Mrs. Thomas said. “It can be done. If there’s a will, there’s a way.”

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