WEST BLOOMFIELD — Advances in technology often enhance convenience and entertainment.
However, the West Bloomfield Fire Department has recently begun to utilize new advanced technology to save lives.
Fire Capt. Gary Proctor estimated it was about a month-and-a-half ago that the department started using LUCAS — the Lund University Cardiopulmonary Assist System — which he described as a medical device that does CPR, thereby freeing up medical personnel to focus on other care-giving procedures.
“The LUCAS, I would say, has probably paid dividends already,” Proctor said. “It’s set to do it the way that the science shows it should be done. You just turn it on, and it goes to work for you, and it does, for lack of a better description, perfect CPR. There’s no human error in it.”
The Fire Department has seven LUCAS devices, one for each ambulance.
The devices were purchased as a result of funding received through the CARES Act, a $150 billion coronavirus relief fund that was signed into law in March.
“When providing CPR to someone, this device keeps the appropriate depth and rate of cardiac compressions going while the paramedics continue to work on other aspects of resuscitation,” said Fire Chief Greg Flynn. “The device is also able to create more distance between providers and the patient. So, throughout the pandemic, this is another tool that we can have to keep our first responders safe while maintaining high-quality care and create positive outcomes for the sick and injured that we’re treating.”
Proctor said that it cost “a little over $109,000” total for the seven LUCAS devices.
“This was very helpful,” Flynn said. “We’re very grateful for those CARES Act dollars to help us get those devices.”
Proctor estimated that the LUCAS devices have been used about a dozen times since the department got them.
Flynn evaluated how things have gone since getting the devices.
“So far, so good,” he said. “Very good feedback from the crews as far as deployment and operation of the devices. We’ll continue to monitor the outcomes of the patients. We’re very optimistic that we’ll continue to see very good outcomes as a result of implementing the LUCAS devices.”
The Fire Department has also been utilizing software known as eBridge, which is powered through a smartphone and allows paramedics to take videos and photos from the scene of an emergency, with the images then being transmitted to a computer terminal at a hospital through a system called CAREpoint.
The technology can help provide medical personnel at hospitals with a more in-depth understanding of what is going on with patients prior to arrival.
Proctor said the technology allows for “several different things.”
He provided an example.
“For someone who’s having a heart attack, or what we call a STEMI (which stands for ST-elevation myocardial infarction, in which a major heart artery is blocked), we can run their EKG off of our monitor, and then what we do is we can take a picture of that and send it to the hospital, and it shows up on their computer system there,” Proctor said. “They can take a look at it and diagnose if they think they’re having a STEMI or not. … They can forward that picture that we send them off to the cardiologist.”
Proctor estimated that the WBFD has had the eBridge technology for around two years, and he said that it “probably has saved some lives.”
He described how information was relayed to hospitals prior to having the technology.
“It was really kind of word of mouth, if you will,” Proctor said. “For every medical we go on, we have to contact the hospital either by radio or by phone and paint that picture for them of what we’ve encountered, what we’re bringing in. … That picture’s a thousand words kind of thing.”
Proctor said the technology “gets information into the cardiologist’s hands a lot quicker.”
Pictures taken at the scene of a car crash and photo evidence of a gunshot victim’s wounds are other examples of how eBridge technology can be utilized.
From the perspective of Beaumont Farmington Medical Director of the Emergency Trauma Center Dr. Sanford Vieder, being sent the information as it’s happening allows the proper emergency team to be activated and ready for the patient’s arrival, with the time saved potentially saving a patient’s life.
“Those pictures give us a lot of useful information to be able to decide how to best care for and what kind of injuries we should be looking for or can expect, based on the mechanism,” Vieder said. “If you can direct your care based upon the circumstances in which that injury occurred, then that really gives you a heads up in terms of really honing your areas of concern and treatment.”
Proctor said the technology gets used “maybe once a week.”
General Devices is the innovator of eBridge. According to its website, “With eBridge, all of your communications and data sharing between and among hospital teams is secure.”
The Farmington Hills Fire Department and the Farmington Public Safety Department also utilize eBridge technology.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was established to protect personal health care information, and according to FHFD EMS Coordinator Jim Etzin, the software is fully HIPPA compliant.
There may be more than just a couple of local departments that utilize the software going forward.
“I think in the near future, there’s a good chance that this system will be much wider used by departments throughout the county,” Proctor said.
Birmingham resident Ronald Hausmann donated funding to help the FHFD and the West Bloomfield Fire Department implement the technology into their operations.