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West Metro Fire

lucas machine 2WEST METRO ADDED SEVERAL LUCAS DEVICES to district ambulances in March. The device takes over CPR compressions from first responders, allowing paramedics and emergency medical technicians to administer other lifesaving treatments at the same time. PHOTO: WEST METRO FIRE RESCUE

By Ronda Scholting

On a Saturday in May, the sun barely peeked out from behind the thick clouds that hung over Bear Creek Lake Park. But the weather had little impact on the parents and kids who were enjoying the weekend’s scout camping trip as they fired up the grill for lunch.

Ted Amidon grabbed a plate and headed for the picnic table to sit down. But, in the few steps from grill to table, Ted suddenly dropped to the ground, unconscious. Other parents rushed to his side and found he was not breathing. Someone called 911 and Ted’s wife Kirsten started CPR.

On the 911 recording, you can hear the panic in the caller’s voice and the reassurance from the Jeffcom dispatcher that help was on the way. The dispatcher counted out the compressions for Kirsten as she performed CPR on Ted, who had completely lost all color.

“He just dropped, we thought he had tripped,” said Kirsten Amidon. “The parent next to me said he thought Ted had a pulse and I remember thinking, what do you mean you think he has a pulse? He looked like he had passed.”

The West Metro firefighters that responded knew the incident was a possible cardiac arrest and when they arrived, Kirsten was still performing CPR.

“We had an incredible and effective bystander CPR presence,” said Brian Holcomb, West Metro firefighter/paramedic. “Kirsten gave Ted a huge chance, and then the LUCAS device helped assure that we were giving consistent high-quality CPR. That was certainly one of many important pieces that helped Ted survive.”

West Metro added several LUCAS devices to district ambulances in March of this year. The device takes over CPR compressions from first responders, allowing paramedics and emergency medical technicians to administer other lifesaving treatments at the same time. The device automatically calibrates the depth of compressions for each individual patient and delivers those compressions continuously, even while the patient is being moved onto a gurney, into an ambulance and to the hospital.

In Ted’s case, the West Metro crew and the LUCAS device got his heart beating again. On the ride to the emergency room, Ted was able to talk with his rescuers. After treatment in the heart catheterization lab, he walked out of the hospital after a short stay.

“What do you say, but thank you,” said Ted Amidon. “I was glad to get another chance and glad that we have these resources.”

Since Ted’s incident in May, two other West Metro patients have survived cardiac arrest, thanks in part to the LUCAS device. The fire district currently has seven of the devices and is looking at funding to put the LUCAS on all West Metro ambulances.

Ronda Scholting is the West Metro Fire Rescue Communications/Media Relations Specialist.