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‘Robot paramedics’ now being used on ambulances

South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) is the first in England to take the new state-of-the-art technology onboard its vehicles. LUCAS 3 is a mechanical system which can deliver high-quality cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) chest compressions consistently from the moment crews arrive on scene.

CPR is essential to maintain blood and oxygen flow around the body while a person is unconscious and not breathing. The system uses wireless Bluetooth connectivity, allowing it to configure the compression rate, depth and alerts specific to an organization’s resuscitation guidelines.

It also means it can collect data which can be reviewed post-event and shared with other clinicians. The model used is upgraded from a version evaluated in 2014 as part of the PARAMEDIC trial led by the University of Warwick.

The device is a mechanical system which can deliver high-quality cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) chest compressions consistently from the moment crews arrive on scene and throughout a patient's journey to hospital without interruption
The device is a mechanical system which can deliver high-quality cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) chest compressions consistently from the moment crews arrive on scene and throughout a patient’s journey to hospital without interruption

“Once paramedics arrive and begin CPR or take over from bystanders who may have initiated it, the transition from manual compressions to LUCAS can be completed within seven seconds, ensuring continuity of compressions,” a SCAS spokesperson said.

However, the robots aren’t cheap. According to MFI Medical, which makes the robots, they retail at around $16,929.18 (£11,895.29).

Dr. John Black, medical director at SCAS, stated, “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 a number of 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.”

Dr. Black added, “There are also significant safety risks to ambulance personnel being unrestrained and performing CPR in the back of vehicles traveling at high speed. These devices don’t fatigue or change the delivery in any way, meaning high quality CPR can be delivered for as long as is 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.”

LUCAS devices are also utilized in hospital emergency rooms for resuscitation and in critical care units to support patients in cardiac arrest.

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