The unit can provide both chest compressions and act as a defibrillator. | Photo by Dave Lueneberg, Shootin’ the BreezeDave Lueneberg, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

It’s known as AutoPulse — an automated, portable, battery-powered device that can help first responders in lifesaving efforts.

Like a person performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the unit, when connected to the patient, provides chest compressions and, if needed, administers electric shocks, just like a defibrillator might, but saving valuable time in the process.

With a price tag of nearly $17,000, the cost can be out of reach for many fire departments and ambulance operations in small communities, particularly if they cover a large area, and when more than one might be needed.

Thankfully, though, through a recent donation by one local business, Pincher Creek Emergency Services has been able to acquire a second such unit, strategically placing it at its Beaver Mines fire hall operation.

“With the growing number of users in the backcountry and with the population aging, it’s just one more tool we can use to get the people the help they need,” said PCES fire Chief Pat Neumann.

“We’ve done the research and we know it makes a difference and increases the chances of positive patient outcomes, and for us, with the help of our donors, it’s a wise investment.”

The first unit, already being used in Pincher Creek, Alta. fire hall, has yielded at least two positive outcomes in its time.

“This is an important piece of equipment for our local responders,” said Wendy Desjarlais, Vision Credit Union’s Pincher Creek branch manager, after seeing a demonstration of the AutoPulse in action.

“Especially, where the population at Castle Mountain can explode over the winter, as they said here, to 2,500. There’s so much risk of injury. The fact that this location [Beaver Mines] can respond so much faster and stabilize people so much faster is crucial. You never know. It could help someone you or I know and love.”

Earlier this year, Vision Credit Union presented a cheque for $10,000 to PCES toward the purchase of the unit, a key piece of equipment Division 3 Coun. Dave Cox is glad to see in the fire hall’s arsenal.

“This [unit] will really enhance the capability of our fire-ambulance rescue service in our community. To have this tool in our remote station will really be a benefit,” said Cox, a former fire chief for the region, but also someone who got his start at the Beaver Mines hall.

“The key is timely intervention and anything that comes out of Pincher Creek is 10, maybe 15 minutes out, depending on how fast they can drive, and that’s really the survival window for someone who’s in cardiac arrest.”

And, response time from Pincher can be doubled or tripled, with poor road conditions, if the call is out at Castle Mountain.

While the hope is the unit is never needed, there’s every indication that it will be, and with that in mind, Chief Neumann, knowing its value, is already focusing on adding at least two more units to the fleet — one for the Lundbreck hall, the other for Pincher Creek.

By Dave Lueneberg, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Nov 24, 2023 at 09:22

This item reprinted with permission from   Shootin' the Breeze   Pincher Creek, Alberta

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