New CPR devices will soon be helping save lives in Henry County

Money for devices appropriated Tuesday

HENRY COUNTY, Va. – The Henry County Department of Public Safety will soon have new devices that could help save your life.

On Tuesday afternoon, county supervisors appropriated money to help purchase mechanical CPR devices.

The department currently has a mechanical CPR device, affectionately referred to within the department as "Thumper," but it is decades old and hard to use.

It currently sits in a storage shed collecting dust.

In just a few weeks, the department will have five smaller, easier to use, and more advanced devices.

Department director Matt Tatum says since machines don't get tired they can provide more effective chest compressions for longer than a human can.

"The body's not going to be as effective five or 10 minutes into this as it was the first minute," Tatum said.

Along with standard compressions, the devices simultaneously provide a second type of compression; something a human can't.

"A cummerbund-type device that wraps around the chest and it squeezes the entire chest," Tatum said.

Currently, if CPR has to be performed in an ambulance while a patient is being transported, the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) can usually only provide compressions with one hand, using their other hand to hold onto a bar for balance.

While that's better than nothing, division operations chief Jason Sturm says it's not very effective, but the new devices will eliminate that problem.

"You usually do CPR like this, it's more effective than hanging up here doing this," Sturm said as he demonstrated performing CPR in the back of an ambulance.

The EMTs can also remain sitting while the machine performs CPR, reducing their chances of getting tossed around and injured.

But, even as helpful as the devices may be, Tatum says knowing how to perform CPR is still something everyone should know how to do.

Once the devices are ordered, they're expected to arrive in four to six weeks.

In the meantime, the company that makes the devices will send the department software for EMTs to do online training with the devices.

The EMTs will also do a couple of days of hands-on training once the devices arrive and then the devices will be deployed.