Dead for 40 minutes: Colin Fielder, 39, was saved by the new CPR machine, AutoPulse, which has had mixed reviews in medical studies.
“I’m so grateful, more than I could ever say,” he told Australia’s Herald Sun in an article published May 12. He has quit smoking and is now leading a healthier life. Fielder was one of three patients saved by the AutoPulse after being dead for 40–60 minutes at The Alfred hospital in Melbourne. But the machine is not available at all hospitals or in all ambulances.
Clinical trials of the AutoPulse listed on the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) website show mixed results, though the most recent studies do suggest an overall benefit to using the machine instead of manual Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
The machines at The Alfred are part of an ongoing study published on the NIH website. The study notes: “Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) is a leading cause of death in Australia. In more than 50 percent of cases, paramedics are unable to start the heart and the patient is declared dead at the scene.”
With manual resuscitation, the paramedic often becomes less effective as even a short period of time elapses. The rate and depth of chest compressions can decrease in less than a minute without the paramedic “being aware that his/her effort is actually diminished,” states a University of Washington study. The study, started in 2005 and terminated in 2006, found the AutoPulse had an even worse success rate than manual CPR, however.
An ongoing study sponsored by the company that makes AutoPulse, Zoll Medical Corporation, in collaboration with Ullevaal University Hospital in Oslo, Norway, states: “Studies comparing manual and mechanical chest compressions have resulted in conflicted results. The investigators think this may be based on methodology and design issues of the trials as much as not focusing on training and experience in operating a mechanical device clinically.”
A study completed in 2009 by the Beaujon Hospital in France favored the use of AutoPulse. The effect on blood pressure and movement “is promising of better outcomes in patients with out-of-hospital CA and may justify the use of this device in a modern strategy for ALS [advanced life support],” states the report.
The North Washington Fire Department announced on May 9 that it saved the life of 46-year-old Joy Garza using the AutoPulse after her heart had stopped for 10 minutes.
EMS Chief Dave Baldwin of North Washington Fire told medical business publication Jems: “[AutoPulse’s] ease of use lets us provide chest compressions within seconds. Plus it allows us to focus on other treatments, such as administering drugs and ventilation.”
Demonstration of AutoPulse
(MetroWest Daily News video)