Panama City Beach Firefighters received a call from dispatch around 8:30 on a recent Friday morning.
CPR was in progress on a middle-aged man at a hotel on Front Beach Road. Responding with firefighters/paramedics was Battalion 30 which carries a recently acquired CPR device called the LifeLine Arm made by Defib Tech. The use of this device allowed the patient to be delivered to the hospital emergency room for more advanced life-saving treatment.
“It was the easiest Cardiac Arrest call we had because of this machine,” said Seth Ward, Firefighter/Paramedic with the PCB Fire Department.
Due to scheduled maintenance, both elevators at the mid-rise hotel were out of service. Without this compression device, quality chest compressions could not have been performed while safely carrying the patient down three floors of stairs. However, all three shifts at PCBFR had diligently trained for such a scenario. The patient was securely placed on a portable stretcher with the Lifeline Arm performing chest compressions. Firefighters stopped on each floor to reassess the patient’s condition.
“It made everything easier,” said Deputy Fire Chief Ray Morgan. “The signs were good for the patient’s survival. Because you never know what traffic is going to be like on the beach and how long it will take to get to the hospital, having this CPR machine doing compressions is better than having to rotate people. Twenty minutes of compressions can be exhausting.”
High-quality CPR is the most important factor in cardiac arrest survival. Of the more than 350,000 people who go into sudden cardiac arrest outside of a hospital each year, those receiving CPR were two to three times more likely to survive.
The key is consistent, quality chest compressions,” said Captain Jacob Gorman, a paramedic with the Panama City Beach Fire Department.
Those quality compressions, and the safety of EMTs and paramedics administering them in difficult environments and situations, are improved with the department’s acquisition of the Lifeline ARM hands-free CPR device. The PCB Fire Department is the only fire department in Bay County with the device.
Gorman said the department never wants to sacrifice quality chest compressions or the safety of those performing life-saving measures.
A big reason we needed it was because of the nature of some of our calls,” said Gorman, in giving a demonstration to Bay County EMS, fire and paramedics this week. “Panama City Beach has several condos and trying to do CPR in an elevator on the way down to the first floor is difficult. So is doing chest compressions in the back of a 4-wheel-drive pickup truck on the beach.”
The 11-pound Lifeline ARM includes a back rest and wrist slings to stabilize the patient. It all fits in a backpack and includes two batteries with each having a 60-minute life.
Gorman demonstrated the machine to county officials and encouraged them to call for Battalion 30 if they have a report of a sudden cardiac arrest incident on the beach, when PCB firefighters could arrive quickly.
Firefighters said they hope to purchase a second unit in the near future, as the city will soon begin construction on a new third fire station to serve the growing tourist population.
Public Information Officer Debbie Ward can be reached at (850) 233-5100, Ext. 2261 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.