Phil Perry/Coal Valley News - Fire Chief Randall Kirby and retired Fire Chief Doug Estep engage in a demonstration of their new Zoll AutoPulse CPR machiness at the Morrisvale Volunteer Fire Department sub-station in Alkol on May 9, 2019.

MORRISVALE - The Morrisvale Volunteer Fire Department has purchased a pair of Zoll AutoPulse CPR machines that first responders believe provide another tool in their kit that could save someone's life.

"What we do here is about community and it is about our neighbors and our friends and family," said retired Fire Chief Doug Estep, who still volunteers for the department. "Anything that we can do to make us more efficient and thorough, we are going to find a way to do that."

The machines are designed with patient movement and transport in mind while providing high quality CPR without interruption.

Ringing in at about $14,000 each, the department purchased the machines without grant money and out of its own budget.

Training for the machines was completed by the roster at the department and taught by a trainer from Zoll.

The AutoPulse can provide high-quality compressions even during transport down steep stairs and through tight spaces.

"They were here about a week ago and it went real well," he said. "It is very simple to operate. You turn it on, key it up. It has a sensor that measures the weight of the patient. Shoulder straps hold them in place. I really like the fact that if absolutely needed, it can be used with the patient being transported or upright."

The board can be secured to a softboard, stretcher or a backboard. Through multiple trials, the company claims that the device is superior to manual CPR.

Each device has three lithium batteries that will provide compressions for a continuous 45 minutes and can be used while plugged directly into a 110-volt outlet.

The machines automatically detect the size, shape and contour of the individual to provide customized compressions. The MVFD will employ the machines as their first resource for CPR.

Estep described a situation where he once had to do continuous compressions from Hamlin to Charleston.

"I was absolutely exhausted when we arrived," he said. "This takes that element out of the picture."

The department hasn't used the machines in live situations just yet.

"I hope we never have to use them but they are on the trucks and we are ready to use them," added Fire Chief Randall Kirby.

Estep noted that one person can employ the machine without help.

"You just have to be there to monitor ventilation," he said. "If you are doing (manual) compressions and you are the only one there, it is tough. With this, it also allows you time to receive more help if you are responding to a car accident or a fire."

Estep said he saw a similar device in an industry magazine several years ago and his interest was immediately piqued.

Kirby and Estep were amazed that the machine can be used on obese patients with weight limits depending heavily on height and weight disbursement of the individual.

For a rural department serving part of Boone and Lincoln counties through their primary station in Morrisvale and a sub-station in Alkol in Route 3, their district is now approximately 97 percent hydrant accessible for water and they possess a robust Class 4 ISO rating.

ISO (Insurance Service Office) is an organization that provides statistical information on risk. For many years the "ISO Rating" has had a large impact on most fire departments. The ISO (PPC) rating is from 10 through 1. Lower ISO ratings at the nearest fire department generally translate to lower insurance costs for property owners.

In 2014, the department acquired a third vacuum tanker. In 2016, the department acquired its Class 4 rating.

The Whitesville Volunteer Fire Department and the Boone County Ambulance Authority employ similar (Lucas brand) devices and have seen success with their usage.

Reporter Phil Perry can be reached at pperry@hdmediallc.com or follow him on Twitter @philipdperry.