CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Members of the Kanawha County Commission voted Thursday to spend $98,000 to buy seven machines to help paramedics perform CPR.The seven machines, called Lucas Devices, automatically perform chest compressions on CPR patients so medical personnel don't have to.Dr. David Seidler, medical director for the Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority, said the city of Charleston has four of the Lucas Devices, but the county doesn't have any.Seidler said it takes about four people to properly administer CPR on a patient, and that a human being can only do chest compressions for about two minutes before becoming tired. The Lucas devices not only don't get tired, but free up paramedics to pay attention to other patient needs. It's also easier for the machines to keep doing chest compressions while bouncing around in the back of a fast-moving ambulance.
Kanawha County commissioners Kent Carper, Dave Hardy and Hoppy Shores agreed to pay for the seven machines from proceeds from table gambling. Carper said the purchase is the first in a plan to equip each of the county's 37 ambulances with a Lucas Device.However, Carper told Seidler that county officials won't be able to buy more of the devices. He said the ambulance authority will have to figure out how to pay for more of the machines.Also Thursday, commissioners voted to buy alternative-fueled vehicles for several county departments. County officials plan to buy a propane-powered Ford F-150 pickup truck for the county maintenance department, a Ford Expedition for the sheriff's department powered by compressed natural gas and several vehicles for the county assessor's office.The Expedition will be used to transport mental hygiene patients to other parts of the state, and is estimated to get almost 500 miles on a tank of natural gas. County officials are hoping readily available, locally tapped natural gas will become a cheap fuel source as the vast Marcellus Shale gas reserves are exploited in coming years.County officials will try to find grant money to pay for at least part of the cost of the vehicles.Also Thursday, Carper said he intends to ask Hardy and Shores to approve $30,000 in overtime funding to send county deputies to local schools to improve school safety. Deputies have been stationed at several schools already, paid for with grant money.County officials want to continue and expand the program, even though grant funding has ended.Reach Rusty Marks at firstname.lastname@example.org