The LUCAS device uses a plunger that attaches to a person’s chest and pushes down as much as 100 times per minute. Just as when a human performs CPR, the LUCAS device compresses the chest on a regular tempo to continue pumping blood from the heart to the brain and other organs.
“This device provides 100 percent assistance (in CPR) and allows us to focus on other duties (such as establishing an IV for medications),” said Tyler Ashlaw of Morrisonville EMS. “It truly is an unbelievable thing to see.”
As emergency personnel were performing life-saving techniques on Leonard, they asked Irene to leave the room.
“I could hear the machine, but I didn’t realize what it was doing,” she said of those hectic moments she waited to be reunited with her lifelong partner.
After continuing with the LUCAS device and providing a pair of shocks from their automated external defibrillator, the crew acknowledged that Leonard had regained a heart rhythm. They prepared him for transport and soon had him on his way to CVPH Medical Center.
He would continue to receive life-saving support while in the hospital over the next several weeks, a majority of that time spent in an induced coma designed to prevent brain damage from his loss of blood flow.
“The people in ER and ICU (Intensive Care) at the hospital were terrific,” Irene said of Leonard’s care. “They didn’t leave him alone for those first three or four days. They put him on a respirator, lowered his body temperature and induced a coma, all to ensure he’d come out of this OK.
“It was all very nerve-wracking,” she added. “We did not know what condition he’d be in, if he would have any permanent disabilities.”
As he slowly recovered and his vitals returned to normal levels, Leonard moved onto cardiac care where he received a heart catheterization and an internal defibrillator to prevent a return of the conditions that stopped his heart from beating in the first place.