Anonymous donor gives life-saving gift

A local family’s generous gift to Trumbull EMS is going to help save lives.

The family, which wishes to remain anonymous, has donated $34,000 to Trumbull EMS, allowing the department to buy two LUCAS CPR devices, which provide consistent chest compressions in the event of a cardiac arrest.

“It’s $34,000 for two units — it’s a lot of money,” EMS Chief Joseph Laucella said. “The donor wanted this gift to go to equipment the staff felt was important. This LUCAS CPR device provides a high level of continious compression when there is a cardiac event.”

What makes the device so useful is that it will provide chest compressions during a cardiac arrest, allowing EMS responders to focus on transporting a patient or treating them in other ways. Getting a patient into an ambulance can sometimes be difficult, whether a medical emergency occurs in the woods, on one of Trumbull’s outdoor trails, or even upstairs in a home, which can present its owns challenges.

According to the LUCAS website, Cardiac arrest, otherwise called “clinical death” occurs when the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops pumping and the blood circulation halts. The patient becomes unconscious, without any breathing or pulse. Sudden cardiac arrest can be reversible if the patient receives immediate care and the cause of the arrest can be found and treated appropriately. A big part of that care is chest compressions.

“In many cases we are doing CPR for 20 to 30 minutes,” Laucella said of a cardiac arrest call. “Ten minutes on the scene and then 10 minutes to the hospital on average. You don’t want to stop CPR for more than five seconds or you lose the pressure in the body.”

Rescuer fatigue is also a factor, Laucella said, which makes the LUCAS devices a great benefit.

Trumbull EMS received about 50 calls reporting cardiac arrest in 2014. While not all those calls turned out to be cardiac arrest, it is still a high number, according to Laucella. In the last year, Trumbull EMS has had three cardiac arrest saves, with help of Trumbull police.

“Trumbull police are pivotal,” Laucella said. “They are equally responsible for work we do. Without their assitance these saves wouldn’t have been made.”

Police are often the first on the scene and begin providing care before EMS arrive. With these two LUCAS devices a police officer or EMS responder can start compressions and then the LUCAS machine can be put on, while that person is still doing compressions, allowing for continious care.

Trumbull EMS, which consists of 50 volunteers and about 30 staff members, have been training on the new devices for the past week. Each one is now on a Trumbull ambulance, ready to go.

The department was also recently awarded an $80,000 FEMA grant, allowing it to purchase two state-of-the-art cardiac monitors, which also provide a high level of care and can transmit information to a hospital before a patient arrives.

First Selectman Timothy Herbst said the donation and grant are examples of the great work Laucella has done in the department since starting a year and a half ago.

“We are very grateful for the donation and it’s a recognition of the positive reforms that Chief Laucella has brought to Trumbull EMS over the course of the last year,” Herbst said. “He has increased our call coverage, reduced response time and most importantly, is saving lives. We are grateful to the donor and will continue to move that department forward in a very positive way.”

Laucella said the thanks belong to his staff and volunteers.

“This is all because of the hard work and dedication of our crew,” he said. “This family had a positive experience with Trumbull EMS and that led to this generous donation.”

Laucella said donations like this one make a big difference for the EMS department.

“This has such a huge impact on our community and our members are excited to have the best equipment available to work with,” Laucella said. “We can’t fully express our gratitude.”