Meet the ‘Elegard’ at the Tuscaloosa Fire Department

"Elegard" can help save more lives from cardiac arrests
Published: Mar. 2, 2022 at 5:45 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2022 at 7:07 PM CST
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - The Tuscaloosa Fire Department has taken a major step to save more lives from cardiac arrests. The move combines CPR techniques with something new.

We’ll begin with this number: 700,000 people suffer from sudden cardiac arrests in this country every year, and the survival rate is not good.

They call it the ‘elegard,’ a 15-pound package that elevates the cardiac arrest patient in such a way that drastically improves air flow.

“What it does is make your standard compressions a lot more effective. It elevates the head, a position that’s most advantageous, that gets more blood to the brain,” said Tuscaloosa Fire Paramedic Brandon Roberts.

That’s the name of game when you’re racing against time. In fact, medical statistics show just over 10% survive outside the hospital.

“Up until now, the number of folks we get back from cardiac arrest is not as large as we like,” said Tuscaloosa Fire Department Deputy Chief of Fire and Rescue Chris Williamson.

The Tuscaloosa Fire Department has 15 elegards. Each one will be placed on 15 fire trucks.

“This lifts the head up, shoulders and a little bit of the chest up on somebody who is in cardiac arrest. What that does is improve flow to the brain and that improves the likelihood their brain function remains intact,” said Williamson.

With the elegards now in-house, the Tuscaloosa Fire Department made history.

“Yes, that’s correct, we’re the first agency of any kind in the state,” Williamson said.

But history aside, what really matters is the new mission out in the field: save more lives with the elegard.

“After the training I think the people in the department as a whole will realize ‘hey, this is going to be a good thing,” Roberts said.

The elegards cost $6,000 a piece.


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