JACKSON COUNTY, Ala. — Technology is changing the way first responders in Jackson County save lives.
County commissioners are working to get every volunteer fire department there new mechanical CPR machines through the CARES Act.
Stevenson Volunteer Fire Department Captain James Ballard knows firsthand the difficulties of performing CPR.
“People get tired, they want to start helping do other things, and after probably about three or four minutes if it’s just two people, you’re not doing any form of life sustaining CPR by the time you reach the hospital,” said Ballard.
That is where the Lucas chest compression system comes in.
“Skyline got one and two or three days after that, yes, it was used and it was successful,” explained Jackson County Commissioner Danny Rich.
“This electronic machine, the Lucas 3 provides 100 percent chest compression at the accurate rate where there’s no fatigue on the guys so you can do more with less manpower. For a lot of volunteer agencies, that is a major issue right now,” explained Ballard.
Ballard’s department covers 137 square miles, which is one of the largest areas for a volunteer agency in the state.
In emergency situations, seconds matter.
“Where we’re out if it’s on a good day, a 20 to 25 minute drive to the hospital. That’s from town. At the end of our jurisdictional line, it may take 45 minutes to an hour to get to a hospital,” said Ballard.
It only takes seven seconds to put someone into the Lucas 3 machine, and it fits almost everyone.
“This actually fits to where the machine is right under the armpits so that is a more narrow portion of the human body,” said Ballard.
One machine costs just under $15,000, but there are discounts when bought in bulk.
Luckily for the county, they will be reimbursed through the CARES Act.
“This is money that we’ll be spending now, but we’ll be getting it back to spend on other things,. Basically, it’s free money,” added Rich.
Rich told News 19 that there will also be a Lucas 3 machine at the Jackson County Jail and courthouse.
Ballard said knowing the signs of cardiac failure, stroke or other emergencies are key, but that this machine can help volunteer agencies save lives.
Every volunteer fire department in Jackson County is expected to have a Lucas 3 machine within the next few weeks.
Ballard will lead training for them all next week.
Rich said the purchase of these machines would not be possible without help from the Jackson County Legislative Delegation.