TUSCALOOSA, AL. — Volunteer fire departments in rural areas of Tuscaloosa County will soon be on the receiving end of cutting edge technology that is expected to save lives.

The Tuscaloosa County Commission during its regular meeting on Wednesday approved the allocation of roughly $400,000 to purchase updated Lucas 3 chest compression systems and automated external defibrillators (AEDs) for each county department.

Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Byron Waid made the presentation to commissioners, saying reimbursement of the purchases would most likely be covered under federal CARES Act funding, but would be a wise and helpful investment regardless of if the county covered the full cost.

"We know with the Lucas 3, it's a reimbursable expense and I would fully expect that the AEDs would be in the same way," Waid said. "We had several conversations and spoken with volunteer chiefs and they believe it would be a great piece of equipment for them to have in their communities."

While one county volunteer department has a Lucas 2 and others have written grant requests for funds for the more updated models, Waid pointed out that the newest Lucas technology would bring added benefits and ultimately be a more sound investment in the long run.

"It's one of the single-best pieces of equipment you can provide to those folks in rural areas," he said.

District 1 Commissioner Stan Acker echoed the sentiment by praising not only the added assistance to VFDs, but also being the difference between life and death during calls in remote areas.

"To me, this is a no-brainer," Acker said.

As Patch has previously reported, the Lucas devices "deliver high-performance, continuous chest compressions with less strain, micromanagement, and risk for the caregiver," with the operator not having to physically perform chest compressions that can be tiring, time-consuming and ultimately cause additionally physical injuries to the victim as a result of the compression.

According to numerous purchase listings, one Lucas 3 system can cost in the vicinity of $15,000 or higher.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration defines AEDs as "portable, life-saving devices designed to treat people experiencing sudden cardiac arrest ... in which the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. The AED system includes accessories such as a battery and pad electrodes that are necessary for the AED to detect and interpret an electrocardiogram and deliver an electrical shock."

One ADE industry group — AEDLeader.com — reported individual systems can cost between $900 and $1,200.

Duncanville Volunteer Fire Department Chief Billy Doss also spoke to the need for the equipment during the meeting and expressed his gratitude to the Commission for investing in the county's VFDs.

"I just want to say thank y'all, it means a lot," Doss said with emotion in his voice. "We were on a call with Tuscaloosa Fire over the weekend and we didn't have [a Lucas device], but they did. This medic said they had been doing it for years and until they got the Lucas, very rarely anybody left alive and he said now it's very common that people leave alive. They don't always live, but more of them are leaving alive ... so thank y'all."

The motion to approve the purchase was made by District 2's Jerry Tingle and seconded by Acker, with the measure passing unanimously.

The Tuscaloosa County Commission's next meeting is set for Oct. 21 at 9 a.m.Tuscaloosa,, AL to use CARES funds for Lucas devices and AEDs

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