CPR is exhausting, even for the professionals, but now a Redmond company has developed a machine that can keep up the compressions better than any human. Meet a woman who says she owes her life to that machine and to the paramedics who helped saved her.
Today they share a heartfelt hug, but last April, Nancy Olson and Marie 'Buzz" Bussard met in under completely different circumstances,
Nancy, an artist from Priest Lake, Idaho, had traveled to Bellingham for a totem pole carving class when she suddenly became ill.
"She was unresponsive in kind of in seizure," said Marie, who is with Whatcom County Medic One, which responded to the 9-1-1 call.
What does Nancy remember?
"Nothing. Really. I mean there I was...There I wasn't and then I woke up in the hospital."
Nancy's heart had stopped beating. What she didn't know at the time was that she had just received a new kind of CPR called the LUCAS-2.
Marie Bussard says it makes CPR more efficient for the patient and the paramedic.
"You put it on and it starts compressions and that is done. You don't have to switch people out, you don't have to worry about going up and down the stairs and if somebody gets a pulse back, you simply turn it off and you leave it in place. I f you need to turn it back on again, you can."
Another automated device was tested in Seattle back in 2004 and found not to be as effective as manual CPR. This one operates on a entirely different principle. Instead of a belt, it uses a piston-like mechanism.
Cam Pollock, Vice-president of Marketing for Physio-Control says the LUCAS-2 gives consistent compressions, from the time it's turned on to the time the patient arrives at the hospital.
"I like to think of it as almost a non-invasive bypass machine. Really gives that person a fighting chance, gets their brain oxygenated on the way to the hospital until they can get more definitive therapy," he said.
Nancy says she will never forget April 10. 2011.
"It was the day my new life began," she said.
The LUCAS-2 is FDA cleared. Currently, there are about 1100 of the machines in use around the United States, including two sites in Washington: Whatcom County and Richland. They're made by Physio-Control in Redmond, the same company that invented life-saving defibrillators.