5K race in Smyrna raises funds for CPR chest-compression machine for American Legion Ambulance 64

Sponsors and participants in the First Responders 5K Saturday in Smyrna were literally helping to save lives.

That’s because the funds raised from the race will help buy a Lucas device – a CPR chest-compression machine – for American Legion Ambulance 64 which serves the Smyrna-Clayton area.

“When you have to do compressions by hand in the back of an ambulance, it’s not a fun thing,” said Ambulance Captain Russ Stinson.

He said the traditional CPR procedure has three drawbacks. First, a person doesn’t always give consistent compressions. Second, a person can get tired and may need to switch with another person who might not give compressions the same way the first person was doing. Third, standing up in the back of an ambulance to give compressions can pose safety problems to the emergency medical service personnel, especially over bumps, around corners or during sudden stops, as the ambulance travels at high speed to get the patient to the hospital.

To solve the problem, American Legion Ambulance 64 in Smyrna is holding fundraisers to buy four Lucas devices, one for each ambulance, to provide automatic chest compressions for patients who need CPR.

Ambulance Service Director Brad Gosch said, based on medical studies, a patient receiving CPR from a Lucas device has a 32 to 40 percent greater rate of their heart restarting, compared to a patient receiving CPR compressions from a person.

Stinson said leaders from American Legion Ambulance have talked with ambulance and fire company crews in neighboring communities who have Lucas devices about the benefits of the machines.

“It absolutely gives patients the greatest potential to be saved,” he said. “We are trying to be proactive to make sure we are carrying everything we can to help our community and to help save lives.”

Unfortunately, each Lucas device costs about $15,000.

With a variety of fundraisers so far, the ambulance service has raised enough to buy one, said Ambulance Support Services Director Jeanette Havel.

“At our veterans picnic, we received an anonymous donation in memory of Howard ‘String’ Donovan for $1,500 and that put us over the top for the first Lucas device,” said Havel.

After the Lucas devices are purchased, the next step will be training for the crews.

“The manufacturer of the devices provides training, and some of our neighboring fire and ambulance companies with Lucas devices have offered to help with training as well,” Stinson said.

He said the ambulance service has two crews operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, serving the Smyrna-Clayton community.

Upcoming fundraisers

American Legion Ambulance 64 hosts fundraisers at Wayback Burgers in the Smyrna Mart, usually monthly, with a percentage of the sales going to help buy Lucas devices.

Along with the 5K run/walk this past Saturday, other fundraisers planned include the shrimp feast in March at American Legion Post 14 and the “Touch a Truck” event in May at Providence Creek Academy, where kids and adults can check out a variety of big trucks and emergency vehicles, enjoy food and refreshments, and see and buy items from vendors.

“What we’re trying to do is establish four big events throughout the year, like this 5K, that the community will enjoy and will help us raise funds, instead of constantly having to pass a bucket asking for donations,” said Stinson.

For more information on making a donation or about upcoming fundraisers, call 653-6465 or see the website www.ambulance64.com.