Every year more than three quarters of a million Americans suffer a heart attack. And since it takes time for an ambulance to arrive, your best chance to survive that heart attack is having someone start CPR to keep the blood flowing.
Now there is a new machine that can improve your chances. Ambulance calls very much like this one happen hundreds of thousands of times each year in this country. A frantic run to try to save someone who's suffered a heart attack, like Jim Murphy and Beau Travis.
"I got just about out of the parking lot by this store and I went out like a light. Just shutting off a light switch," says heart attack victim Jim Murphy.
Both Jim and Beau had a sudden cardiac arrest, a lethal type of heart attack where the heart just stops, and which has less than a 5 percent survival rate. What helped these two men were the paramedics of the Lake Mohegan fire district and the Zoll Autopulse. It does what a human can rarely do, perform perfect CPR.
A number of studies have shown that traditional manual CPR isn't very effective, even if done well, at maintaining blood circulation to vital organs like brain, heart, and lungs. Plus CPR training is hard to do in some places, but not for the Auto Pulse.
"When we're moving someone down a flight of stairs, it's just about impossible to do effective CPR, whereas this machine keeps working and does a job until we get the person to the ambulance and continues working uh until we get to the ER," says fire captain, Rick Strauss.
Here's how it works. After the victim is placed on the autopulse board, the belt is secured around the chest. It adjusts automatically to the patient before starting chest compressions. It even pauses automatically to allow paramedics to ventilate the victim, Lake Mohegan was one of the first fire-rescue departments to get the Auto Pulse, much to Jim and Beau's gratitude.
"Yes, and I'm glad they did. I'm glad the fire department had it," says heart attack victim, Beau Travis.
The Auto Pulse can be used with the new automatic external defibrillators that shock a heart back into action.