Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

March 16, 2004 > Saving Lives is Our Business

Saving Lives is Our Business

Across the globe, medical and paramedical personnel responding to medical emergencies depend on highly developed skills that come with training and experience. To enhance the effectiveness, equipment has developed to aid these specialists. Sometimes small modifications create significant advantages and occasionally there are quantum leaps, dramatically changing the landscape of emergency care.

At a recent Fremont City Council meeting, a demonstration of the AutoPulse(tm) Resuscitation System by Engine 1 paramedics (Captain Jeff Youngsma, Engineer Brad Simkin and Firefighter Sean Hampton) , was followed by a presentation to the Fremont Fire Department by Revivant Corporation of Sunnyvale, CA, clearly fit the category of "historic." The Fremont Fire Department was approached by Revivant about two years ago, recommended by other fire departments and medical personnel as a good location for a field test for AutoPulse(tm). Selected as one of the first test sites for the new technology, Fremont continues to provide data to Revivant for statistical studies. The group demonstrating the use of this device at the March 2nd city council meeting entered the record books as the first paramedics world-wide to successfully revive a victim of cardiac arrest with subsequent discharge of the patient.

Fremont Division Chief of EMS Services and Operations Training, Bob O'Brien says that Fremont is evaluating three machines on loan from Revivant. According to Brian Caminada, Newark Fire Department Battalion Chief in charge of Emergency Management Services, his department is currently evaluating one unit and Marlene Rivers, R.N., Emergency Medical Coordinator for the Union City Fire Department says they are closely watching the results of their neighbors. All have expressed optimism about the impact of the device in their armamentarium. AutoPulse(tm) is composed of a battery driven chest belt attached to a back board. The belt automatically adjusts for the size and weight of the patient and performs proper chest compressions so paramedics are able to concentrate on other vital tasks.

When paramedics respond to cardiac arrest, it takes many people to manage the scene. Battalion Chief Caminada says, "We try to get an engine company - 3 people - and our paramedic squad which is an additional two to a cardiac arrest call. One person is assisting with scene control and four people helping the patient. There is also a transition to the ambulance crew and often one or two or our people will go to the hospital with the ambulance. There are so many things to be done - medications, airway, IV, patient control, etc. It requires a team effort. AutoPulse(tm) doesn't replace personnel, but it does make CPR more effective."

The machine doesn't tire out and its uniform compressions efficiently move blood through the body, especially to the heart and brain. This can be a life-saving difference from previous methods. Standard Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is a tiring, rough procedure and is often unable to move a significant amount of blood through the body. If the heart is not beating, even with standard CPR, blood is flowing poorly or not at all. Field reports have shown that significant blood pressure readings are found when the AutoPulse(tm) device is in use. The compression force of the 8 inch wide chest belt is distributed over a wide portion of the body, meaning less risk of bodily injury (e.g. cracked ribs) and better compression while performing CPR.

A former San Francisco paramedic, Daren Jenner, was part of a "beta" test of the AutoPulse(tm) and relates one of his experiences that led him to work with Revivant full time. "I brought a guy back to life [using AutoPulse(tm)] that had been 'dead' for half an hour. This guy was without pulse or breathing for 27 minutes. About three weeks later, he walked out of the hospital and went back his family and his work." He adds that the key to this phenomenal result is that the machine provides circulation through the body. "Manual CPR pumps a small amount of blood, while studies are showing that this machine, in combination with drugs used in cardiac arrest, results in blood flow to the heart and brain equivalent to that of a normally beating heart." Daren estimates that, "Conservatively, we can save 50,000 people a year!"

Division Chief O'Brien says that although the current fiscal crisis is a problem, he would like to see the AutoPulse(tm) on every engine and ladder truck in Fremont. He adds, "They do work!" Although the price tag is approximately $14,000, "It's a small price to pay considering what these devices can do."

At a recent Fremont Fire Department CPR training session, held March 11th, AutoPulse(tm) use was part of the program. A History Channel crew was present to document the training session and use of AutoPulse(tm). O'Brien comments that the device is becoming known as a lifesaver by emergency personnel so often that when responding to a cardiac arrest call, if the first unit on the scene does not have the AutoPulse(tm), they will put in a call to a unit that does. He adds that new lessons are constantly being learned. "If there is no electricity in the heart at all, the patient needs the compression first. After a couple of minutes of we get blood pressure and vital signs, and we can administer drugs to make the heart 'irritable;' then we can shock it. This device is going to change how everyone views CPR. It is a significant and a profound change!"

Many communities are in the process of testing or buying the AutoPulse(tm) for their emergency medical units. "They will be everywhere," says O'Brien. "During my internship, I worked on a cardiac arrest incident on an airplane that occurred somewhere over Las Vegas and we had to work on a woman the entire time until we landed in San Jose. It was so difficult. If we had this device, we probably would have had her back before we landed." AutoPulse(tm) also has advantages during an ambulance ride to the hospital. O'Brien comments that, "When we put a person in an ambulance, the person at the head of the patient is strapped in, but the one doing CPR is not and can get thrown around. This device will lessen that risk." Division Chief O'Brien, Battalion Chief Caminada and Emergency Medical Coordinator Rivers are all quick to point out that this is a tool and a good one, but Rivers cautions, "there is no substitute for the eyes, ears and touch of a trained paramedic."

Tri-City fire departments constantly share information and training techniques looking for better ways to respond to emergencies. EMS Chief Rivers comments that Union City and Newark are about to start a test program in June of a new Continuous Positive Airway Pressure mask for patients with pulmonary edema and breathing problems associated with some side effects of medications.

Due to severe financial restraints, Division Chief O'Brien expressed hope that civic organizations would step forward to help emergency medical services purchase AutoPulse(tm) systems. Ms. Rivers comments that "lives are at stake." The life saved could be yours!

For more information about Revivant Corporation and the AutoPulse(tm), visit

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