By Nancy Dashwood
HOWARD LAKE, WAVERLY, MN Residents experiencing a medical emergency in Howard Lake or Waverly have dedicated and well-trained volunteer first-responders and firefighters serving in their communities.
Now, both departments have added equipment that will assist them in providing immediate mechanical chest compressions as a part of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) efforts.
LUCAS may help raise low CPR survival rates
Jake Drusch, who has driven an ambulance for Howard Lake Fire Department (HLFD) for nine years, said his department received a grant from the Minnesota Department of Health, which gave the department a LUCAS 3 Chest Compression System. The LUCAS 3 system replaced the department’s 10-year old original, but well-functioning LUCAS system.
“It is very important because it performs perfect chest compressions without tiring, like a person would,” Drusch said. “It also makes transporting patients that need CPR much safer for us, in the ambulance, since we won’t need to stand over the patient doing compressions while speeding down the road.”
When the LUCAS 3 was received by the HLFD, the department trained with the equipment, and also retrain on it once per year.
LUCAS 3 upgrade allows equipment loan to Waverly Fire Department
The new LUCAS 3 system is battery-powered and can get up to 45 minutes of compression per battery. It can also be plugged into a normal wall outlet, in case the battery fails.
After the HLFD received and trained on the LUCAS 3 in June 2017, it loaned its original LUCAS machine to the Waverly Fire Department.
The original LUCAS machine is air-powered and uses high-pressure air tanks to power the unit. Each air tank lasts approximately 30 minutes.
HLFD recruits four new members, needs more
Drusch indicated his department is always searching for new members.
The recent addition of new firefighters Kyle Wiech, Michal Spyra, Erik Cleasby, and Damien Olson brings the Howard Lake Fire Department roster total to 25 members. Ideally, the roster would be full, with 30 members.
Interested individuals may contact any current department member for additional information, or stop by Joe’s Sports Shop for an application.
Paperwork, a background check, and a physical evaluation and requirement test are part of the application process.
Once hired, new fire department members must obtain an EMT license and Firefighter I endorsement within three years.
LUCAS 3 utilization
Drusch believes the HLFD has utilized the new LUCAS 3 Chest Compression System about six times in the year they have owned it.
“I believe we have had one save with it,” he said “where we were able to resuscitate the patient after their heart had stopped.”
Drusch wanted people to know that the survival rate, even with mechanical CPR, is normally approximately 10 percent.
“The real key to increased survival rates is earlier CPR and automated external defibrillators (AEDs),” Drusch said.
He indicated that the immediate use of CPR at the time of a cardiac arrest can increase chances of survival up to 37.4 percent.
Know where public AEDs are located
Drusch said there are many public AEDs placed within the City of Howard Lake.
Each church and school, the community center, grocery store, Codger’s Cove, and Joe’s Sport Shop all house AED units for the public to use.
Drusch wants citizens to know the HLFD offers free hands-only CPR training for groups.
A class typically takes one-half hour to an hour. “Normally, we teach these classes at schools or businesses, but we would be willing to do other groups of 10-plus people,” Drusch said.
He encourages anyone interested in learning CPR to call the fire department at 320-543-2001 for information.
Howard Lake Ambulance calls
A simple internet search showing “nearby” hospital distances from Howard Lake indicates how vitally important the local volunteer fire and ambulance departments are.
Ridgeview Medical Center in Waconia is 20 miles away; Allina Health in Buffalo is 18 miles away; Meeker Memorial Hospital in Litchfield is 23 miles away.
When every second is critical, survival equipment such as the LUCAS system may give heart event victims more of a fighting chance of arriving alive at a hospital.
For the record, and to add some perspective to the story, Howard Lake Ambulance has already responded to 208 calls from Jan. 1 to July 1 of 2018.
Get to know your hometown heroes
Drusch indicated the Howard Lake Fire Department will take part in the upcoming National Night Out Tuesday, Aug. 7 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Memorial Park. Drusch said his department will be on-scene showing and teaching about fire trucks, ambulances, all of their equipment, and what first responders do to help.
The Waverly Fire Department will also participate in National Night Out Tuesday, Aug. 7, at the city’s Village Hall, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
HLFD is also in the planning stages for its annual open house, which takes place during Fire Prevention Week in October.