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Phil Perry/Coal Valley News Boone County Ambulance Authority Paramedic William White and EMT Bryan Dickens offer a demonstration of the LUCAS 3 CPR device, which the agency acquired eight of via a matching FEMA sponsored grant.

RACINE - A grant awarded to the Boone County Ambulance Authority allowed the agency the financial means to acquire eight LUCAS 3 CPR devices that are being used around Boone County.

The 10 percent matching FEMA sponsored Assistance To Firefighters grant totaled $165,528.20. The ambulance authority was responsible for approximately $15,000, which came from their budget primarily through the tax levy.

Director Bryan Justice said that with levy funding being lower than in years past, his agency has had to make hard decisions regarding payroll and equipment.

"We've really tried to manage that as much as we can because it has been lower than in years past and with new technology allowing us to be even more efficient, it is important to stay as current as possible," he said. "We are applying for a separate grant to upgrade our radio system to try to improve communications throughout the county with EMS and fire so we can have maximum access. We work in a rural area and with some of the problems our county is facing coupled with the landscape of the area, we want our people to have hand units on them at all times."

As the Coal Valley News previously reported, Justice approached the Boone County Commission three weeks ago for a request of $7,500 to help recoup part of the grant match. Commissioners tabled the request for review, but showed support for the acquisition of the devices and the effort of the agency to remain technologically as current as possible.

The Lucas 3 device is light and breaks down for transport in a way that isn't cumbersome to the medical responder. The lithium battery can be charged in a vehicle or at the station. The device can service a wide range of individuals, but a patient can be too big for the device to attach to. This is determined early on when a piston with a rubber foot touches the chest of the person to measure a two-inch compression. A person can also be too small for the compression to reach, but these situations are rare. According to the manufacturer, they fit 90 percent of the population.

The BCAA responded to 9,319 calls in 2017 with approximately 30 percent of them related to drug overdoses.

Justice said the devices can be an asset in standard home calls or in an event like bus accident, with multiple agencies responding to the scene.

"They take less than 30 seconds to set up and they eliminate human error and fatigue in terms of how precise they are with compressions," he said.

The batteries are good for over an hour of continuous use and can also be used while plugged into a standard 110 outlet if needed.

"We learned a long time ago that quality CPR is what saves lives," he said. "We do that through education of bystanders and co-workers as they can start CPR before we get there and that also helps save lives. IF you have two people in the back of an ambulance and one of them is administering CPR at 65 miles per hour on Corridor G or traveling back out of Pond Fork on a curvy road, we don't get that quality CPR and these devices make that a more stable and productive process."

Justice said that human fatigue is natural.

"Everyone eventually struggles with fatigue except for the Lucas device," he said. "The best set of compressions that a human can deliver is the first set."

The BCAA has armed their transport vehicles with the device and it is currently ready to use throughout Boone County after an extensive two-day training session provided by the manufacturer.

Last Spring, the Whitesville Fire Department/EMS acquired a Lucas 2 device so there are nine total in the county at the moment.

"In the end," said Justice. "We want to provide the best quality service that we can to our citizens because they deserve it. It starts with superior training and access to equipment is a big part of providing that service. Our vehicles are essentially tool boxes for our people and we do our best to provide them with what they need in virtually any situation."

Visit the BCAA at boonecountyems.org.

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

@philipdperry.

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