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Grant to provide ambulance services, hospitals with CPR machines

FARGO — Emergency medical staff across the state will soon be able to lend patients a hand more easily, with the help of a statewide grant.

North Dakota’s Department of Health was recently awarded a roughly $3 million grant that will pay for one or more automated Lucas CPR machines for every ambulance service and hospital in the state, the Health Department said Friday.

FM Ambulance, the Fargo-Moorhead metro area ambulance service, will get two of the machines, which automatically provide a pumping motion on the chest of a patient who needs resuscitation, freeing up the hands of emergency responders.

“The device actually works better than a human being,” said Don Martin, operations manager for FM Ambulance.

The state will receive 212 of the devices, thanks to a grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, said Tom Nehring, director of the Health Department’s emergency medical services and trauma division.

Martin said administering CPR is challenging, and even trained medical personnel can make mistakes or not do it as effectively as these new machines.

“If you only do it once a year just to recertify … it’s just like a skill that you forget,” Martin said.

For instance, CPR requires that the responder pump the patient’s chest 100 times a minute and at a specific depth, about 2 inches.

“Depth is very important,” Martin said, “and a lot of people are afraid to do chest compressions because they’re afraid to hurt the person.”

The machines take only about 10 to 15 seconds to strap on, and once on, the emergency responder can tend to other things to help keep the patient alive, Nehring said.

“It also decreases the stress and the physical demands on the rescuer,” Nehring said.

Unlike automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, which have become common in many public areas, these CPR machines will be maintained by medical staff only, Martin said. The CPR machines typically cost between $15,000 and $18,000, he said.

Martin said FM Ambulance hopes to eventually have one machine in every one of its 14 ambulances.

The Helmsley Charitable Trust has given more than $15 million to North Dakota for emergency medical services in the past two years, Nehring said.

The trust focuses on providing funds for medical services and equipment to underserved rural areas in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Montana and Wyoming, he said.

The trust also recently gave another $3.7 million to South Dakota for the same machines, according to the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls.

Erik Burgess
Erik Burgess covers city and county government for The Forum. He started as the paper's night reporter in 2012, after graduating from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn. He was born and raised in Grand Forks, N.D., and also spent time interning at the Grand Forks Herald.  Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to
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