The Minnesota Department of Health kicked off a new initiative in Alexandria, MN to place life-saving equipment in ambulances and emergency rooms across the state. The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust is funding the project with a $4 million grant.
The grant will be used to place an automated chest compression device, called Physio-Control LUCAS® 2 Chest Compression System, into ambulance services and hospitals across the state.
Our own Willmar Ambulance Manager, Brad Hanson, helped present the benefits of having the LUCAS 2 at the grant announcement in Alexandria, MN. Willmar Ambulance was one of the first ambulance services in outstate Minnesota to have LUCAS 2s in all Rice ambulances thanks to funds provided from the Rice Health Foundation Employee Campaign in 2012.
The LUCAS 2 device became available in the Twin Cities metro area about five years ago, where it is now widely used. However, the Helmsley Foundation estimates that the greatest need is in Greater Minnesota with 80 percent of ambulances and hospitals in the state lacking access. The grant will allow these providers to obtain the equipment at no cost.
Minnesota’s survival rate from cardiac arrest is 14 percent. The national rate is less than 5 percent. When cardiac arrest occurs, the heart stops abruptly, the victim collapses and quickly loses consciousness. If a normal heart rhythm is not restored within minutes, the person usually dies. The automated chest compression device more effectively and consistently delivers the necessary chest compressions, increasing the patient’s chances of survival.
Automated CPR is changing attitudes among doctors about the prospect of patients surviving prolonged cardiac arrest. In 2013, a Wisconsin man suffering a sudden cardiac arrest made a good recovery after receiving automated CPR for 2 hours and 45 minutes during transport and treatment at Regions Hospital in St. Paul. This is thought to be the world’s longest example of extended CPR that successfully revived a patient.
MDH will reach out to all EMS and hospital providers in early 2015 to coordinate training activities and distribution of the devices.
For more information and the Helmsley Charitable Trust, visit www.helmsleytrust.org.