UW Health Emergency Department, Madison Fire Department partner to bring life-saving technology to patients in cardiac arrest

The BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine (DEM) at UW Health works closely with area emergency medical services agencies, such as the Madison Fire Department (MFD), to support them in providing high-quality, innovative care to patients in the community prior to arrival at the hospital.

DEM and MFD are proud to highlight a life-saving technology being newly implemented by MFD, thanks in part to generous contributions from local philanthropists.

A LUCAS device is set up to perform automated CPR on a mannequin during a demonstration.

A LUCAS device is a machine that delivers high-quality chest compressions to patients suffering from sudden cardiac arrest. These devices are especially helpful for first responders, allowing them to perform the highest quality cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in a moving ambulance while protecting both patients and paramedics.

Patients who are put on a LUCAS device are transferred to University Hospital, an advanced resuscitation medical center, where they are assessed for extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation (ECPR) in the emergency department.

Dr. Joshua Glazer, UW Health emergency physician and critical care intensivist, explains, “ECPR is a treatment we can initiate at the BerbeeWalsh Emergency Department to effectively replace the function of the heart, giving the health care team time to address the root medical problem while supporting the brain and other critical organs from ongoing injury caused by a lack of blood flow.”

Patients who have been treated with a LUCAS device followed by hospital-based ECPR have a better chance of surviving to hospital discharge with a good outcome than do patients who receive only conventional CPR without the assistance of a mechanical device.

The strong partnership between UW Health and surrounding EMS agencies facilitates these life-saving procedures. This partnership includes sharing of information, patient outcomes, and joint simulation trainings.

Once made aware of the significant impact these devices can have on saving Dane County’s most critically ill patients, a small group of local philanthropists coordinated funds that allowed MFD to purchase these devices. The regular MFD budgeting process would not allow for such a large expense in such a short period of time, so the group stepped. This way the citizens of Dane County could benefit immediately.

“That the UW worked hand-in-hand with invested members of our community to make this happen demonstrates how important our relationship is in providing great care to citizens,” said Ché Stedman, assistant chief of medical affairs, MFD.

An appreciation event was held at MFD Station #1 on Monday to recognize the generous contributions from this group of community supporters.

Members from the UW Health emergency department and Madison Fire Department pose for a photo with community philanthropists.

Dane County EMS, including MFD, has some of the highest survival rates for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in the nation. With all agencies countywide now able to employ automated CPR devices, UW Health and Dane County emergency agencies are well-positioned to continue this life-saving work.

The BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine thanks Mr. Nathan Herbst for helping to coordinate the following local philanthropists in their support of delivering exceptional health care to our community (listed alphabetically): Jim Berbee and Karen Walsh, Joel and Jessica Fields of the Fields Foundation, Dan and Julie Hartung, Nathan and Sarah Herbst, and Paul and Suzy Shain.