Robot paramedic carries out CPR in ambulance in UK first
Image credit: SCAS/PA Media
A robot paramedic is being used for the first time in the UK to carry out chest compressions on patients in ambulances to free up the emergency team to carry out other vital treatments.
South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) – an NHS ambulance service for the counties of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, and Hampshire – is the first in the country to take the novel technology, known as LUCAS 3, onboard its vehicles.
The device is a mechanical system that can deliver high-quality cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) chest compressions consistently from the moment crews arrive on the scene and throughout a patient’s journey to a hospital without interruption.
“Once paramedics arrive and begin CPR or take over from bystanders who may have initiated it, paramedics can complete the transition from manual compressions to LUCAS within seven seconds, ensuring continuity of compressions,” a SCAS spokesperson said.
The system uses wireless Bluetooth connectivity, allowing it to configure the compression rate, depth, and alerts specific to an organisation’s resuscitation guidelines. Paramedics can also collect and review data post-event and share this information with other clinicians, its developers said.
Dr John Black, medical director at SCAS, said: “We know that delivering high quality and uninterrupted chest compressions in cardiac arrest is one of the major determinants of survival to hospital discharge, but it can be very challenging for several reasons.
“People can become fatigued when performing CPR manually which then affects the rate and quality of compressions, and patients may need to be moved from difficult locations, such as down a narrow flight of stairs, or remote places, which impedes the process.”
Black added there are also significant safety risks to ambulance personnel being unrestrained and performing CPR in the back of vehicles travelling at high speed. “These devices don’t fatigue or change the delivery, meaning it can deliver high-quality CPR for as long as required while freeing up the paramedic, keeping them seated and belted and able to focus on other critical aspects of patient care on a journey. It ultimately acts as a robotic third crew member for our teams.”
The experts at SCAS upgraded the model used from a version which clinicians at SCAS evaluated in 2014 as part of the PARAMEDIC trial led by the University of Warwick and published in the journal The Lancet.
“The LUCAS device transforms the management at a cardiac arrest and allows paramedics to focus on the key aspects of clinical care,” said Professor Charles Deakin, divisional medical director for SCAS and lead for resuscitation. “It will be an invaluable part of the team and contribute to the already outstanding results that SCAS have achieved in saving lives of these patients.”
South Central Ambulance Charity has funded 28 of the devices to support crews across Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, and Hampshire.
The NHS also use LUCAS devices for resuscitation in hospital emergency departments and to support patients in cardiac arrest in intensive care units, as well for patients undergoing life-saving coronary balloon angioplasty and stenting procedures to widen narrowed arteries.
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