Your heart has stopped, the rescue unit arrives, they start CPR but have to stop when they load you onto the cart, they have to stop again while they are loading you into the rescue unit and compressions are very difficult in a moving ambulance. This scenario is what sold the Exeter Volunteer Rescue squad on a new piece of equipment, the AutoPulse.
The AutoPulse is designed to lay on the gurney under the patients head and upper body. A tension wrap is secured to the patient and then it automatically adjusts to the size of the patient. When it is activated it begins automatically performing the CPR compressions on the patient. The current recommended rate of compressions is 30 to two ventilations which can be very difficult to maintain over long ambulance trips. The AutoPulse also beeps to warn the EMT that it's time to do the ventilations and stops for the actual two ventilations. The AutoPulse is powered by a very large rechargeable battery which can last up to 45 minutes of continuous compressions.
The Exeter unit's automatic defibrillator was having some issues and after discovering the actual unit was going bad the group began to search for a replacement. Rescue Captain Alan Michl along with other members of the squad attended a demonstration of a automatic defibrillator and an Autopulse in Geneva and knew this was equipment that interested them.
After the trip to Geneva the group agreed that the AutoPulse was "very impressive but the price was prohibitive." They asked the Zoll Medical corporation representative Mike Saner to come to Exeter to give a demonstration for Exeter department. Over thirty members were present and unanimously voted that the department buy both the automatic defibrillator and the AutoPulse.
During a recent training session, over 20 Exeter Rescue unit members along with Dr. Robert McKeeman, the unit's medical advisor, had the opportunity to watch it work and practice with the equipment. McKeeman was impressed, "It's a tremendous addition to the EMT unit and it will probably save lives."
Michl reported, "What we are hearing from people that have it and use it in bigger cities is that they used to have a two to five percent save rate with CPR and now they are seeing a 10 to 20% save rate with this equipment."
Michl explained that "with declining manpower issues at certain times during the day this eliminates the need for sometimes four people in the rescue unit to properly do CPR. We had to have one perform the compressions, one to maintain the held tilt, one person on respirations and a lot of times one to hold on to the person doing CPR."
The two pieces of equipment together cost the department $27,000 and severely depleted their funds but Michl expressed, "The defibrillator has saved a few lives and even the amount to spent on this, I know there will be families that will be glad we have."