Tonawanda News

Niagara Living

August 1, 2008

AUTOPULSE: Twin City Ambulance's new machine increases survival odds

Jerry Duquette was dead for 71 minutes.

The ambulance crew that provided him medical care after he went into cardiac arrest at his daughter’s Williamsville home is fairly certain there is only one reason he is alive today: a new machine called Autopulse, which provided Duquette with strong, steady cardio thrusts until his heart could beat on its own.

In February, Twin City Ambulance, headquartered in North Tonawanda, purchased 17 Autopulse machines at a total cost of about $320,000.

The machine, which straps around the chest of a patient who is clinically dead, provides CPR compressions in a manner that’s more strong and steady than a human might provide.

“It’s efficient, and it allows paramedics to do other things,” said Thomas Maxian, CEO of Twin City.

CPR compressions can be continued as crews move a patient through a doorway or into the ambulance.

“With Autopulse, we’re seeing a return to spontaneous circulation 28 percent of the time,” Maxian said. Previously, returns from a stopped heart occurred only about 5 percent of the time, he said.

The fact that Duquette’s heart beat on its own after 71 minutes is “just incredible, an off-the-charts story,” Maxian said. “I’ve never experienced anything like this before.”

Because the Autopulse is not covered by any health insurance providers, including Medicaid and Medicare, Twin City does not charge extra for the use of the machine, Maxian said.

“It really comes down to a decision of what you want to do for your community,” Maxian said.

Although the machine is not a “miracle worker,” he said, “it gives everybody the best possible chance of survival.”

Duquette, 73, of Poughkeepsie, is grateful that the ambulance that came for him was equipped with the Autopulse. Four weeks later, he was bowling. Five weeks later, he was playing golf.

“I count my blessings every morning,” he said.

Contact editor Michele DeLucaat 693-1000, ext. 157.

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