County gets new life-saving equipment

DeSoto County's Public Safety Department recently purchased four physio-control Lifepak-12 units, and one of them has already been used to save a life.

Manufactured by Medtronic, the Lifepak is an automatic external defibrillator. It restarts a victim's heart during cardiac arrest and can restore an errant heartbeat to its correct rhythms. DeSoto County Paramedic David Glen called it "the latest and greatest" in mobile life-saving technology. Paramedic Glen, along with Captain Glenn Prescott and Emergency Medical Technician Chris Davis, put a Lifepak to the test in early June during a call to a person in distress. Thanks to CPR and the Lifepak, the victim survived.

"The Lifepak goes with us on every single call we run," said Prescott. "We carry three of them on our ambulances, and the fourth is kept as back-up here at the station."

The Lifepaks weigh approximately 20 - 25 pounds each and measure roughly 18 inches long and 12 inches tall.

The Lifepak boasts two important improvements over the County's previous portable defibrillators.

First, it can be operated by a single paramedic. Older types of defibrillators require multiple EMTs. Moreover, the Lifepak "lets you go hands-free," said Glen. Small pads are adhered to a victim's chest to take the place of the old-fashioned paddles associated with earlier defibrillator models. Similarly, little electrodes attach to the victim for monitoring; the EMT does not need to hold anything in place manually.

Secondly, the Lifepak allows for much more sophisticated observation of the troubled heart than past devices.

"Old monitors just gave the frontal view of the heart," explained Glen. "The Lifepak's screen lets you see all sides and angles of the heart." This is of great assistance in on-the-spot diagnosis of the emergency.

The Lifepak also has a blood pressure cuff and can register the level of oxygen in the blood.

The DeSoto County Board of County Commissioners approved the purchase of the Lifepaks at their April 22 public hearing. The Public Safety Department acquired the units in early May.

An in-service training session was conducted on May 19 so that all EMTs and paramedics could become familiar with the Lifepaks. Some staff members who came to DeSoto County from other locations brought Lifepak experience with them as the device is in common use in many Public Safety Departments nationwide.