New equipment to the Putnam Township Fire Department is already paying dividends through saving lives.

On December 3rd, the Fire Department received a call just after 4:30 in the morning from a Putnam Township-woman who was experiencing difficulty breathing. With firefighters on-route, the woman went silent on the phone, suffering cardiac arrest. Fire Chief Greg Amburgey said the first unit on the scene arrived in 6 minutes, a minute ahead of the ambulance. They started CPR on the woman with a LUCAS Chest Compression System device. The LUCAS device is an automatic CPR machine. Medics arrived and used an automated external defibrillator (AED) twice to try and resuscitate her. It didn’t work the first time, but the second time, through the drugs the medics gave her and their care, she started getting her heartbeat back. Amburgey says the woman is back home from the hospital and doing very well. “To me, it’s kind of a miracle,” he said.

Two months ago, having seen LUCAS machines before and being impressed by them, the Fire Chief asked their sales representative to make a presentation to the township Board of Trustees. The Board was equally impressed and authorized the purchase of a system that night, for $16,000. The following morning, Amburgey received news that they would be receiving a second unit from a Firehouse Subs grant. He said he hopes to get a third, soon, so that one will be available on each of their medical units.

With Putnam Township’s firefighters all being on-call, the chief said the device is invaluable at helping at times like early in the morning when staff is at their full-time jobs. No longer are 7-10 people needed to do CPR, Amburgey says; just 2 or 3. The chief agrees with Supervisor Dennis Brennan who said as far he was concerned, that it’s already saved a life means its money well spent. Amburgey said he understands the LUCAS machine isn’t a “save-all” tool, but everything little thing helps out in a person’s time of need. (MK)