Cardiac arrest survivor sees machine that saved his life in action

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LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. -- A Lee's Summit man owes his life to man and machine. When he went into cardiac arrest, humans had some help in doing chest compressions.

This week, Randy Stafford watched a demonstration with a dummy of how his life was saved in February. He suffered cardiac arrest in a restaurant. Fellow diners did compressions first, followed by Lee's Summit Fire Department personnel.

But it wasn't long before they strapped "Lucas" onto Stafford's chest. It's a machine that does chest compressions in perfect rhythm at the perfect depth. It doesn't fatigue as humans do when they're performing compressions.

"It's a device that's making a significant difference in our ability to provide consistent care, where a human would falter at different times," said John Spencer, a Lee's Summit Fire Department assistant chief.

He said it can be hard to continue manual compressions as you're wheeling someone out of a restaurant or house and into and out of an ambulance. With Lucas, personnel can instead focus on other life-saving tasks.

Lee's Summit is one of just a few departments in the metro that uses Lucas. It has two of the devices that are kept in command cars. Why don't more departments have them?

"I think the biggest issue is cost," said Spencer.

It's $12,000 for one device. It's priceless to Stafford.

"When you see this, I couldn't believe that was me," he said.

Lucas did chest compressions on him for 35 minutes.

"The fact this could keep goin' clear into the emergency room, it's phenomenal," said Stafford.

With the help of many people and a machine, Stafford is a survivor of cardiac arrest.

These days, CPR only requires chest compressions. No mouth-to-mouth. Lucas doesn't fit everyone. The assistant chief says it can't be used on very obese people, children, or very small adults.

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