On a day when hearts are on the minds of everyone, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is honoring the Pittsburgh Emergency Medicine Foundation (PEMF) for its work to support first responders and to help the city’s EMS Bureau acquire a chest compression device that can save lives.

The foundation was created in 1985 to help fund education and research projects to further emergency medicine. It has presented researchers with more than 200 grants that have resulted in more than 100 published scientific papers.

More recently, the foundation is buying the city’s EMS Bureau a LUCAS device to help paramedics in the field.

The LUCAS device provides chest compressions and sustains circulation during prolonged resuscitation attempts. Even before paramedics arrive, first responders can use the LUCAS device and help save a life. (LUCAS stands for Lund University Cardiopulmonary Assist System.)

LUCAS Device.

“We are just a small foundation,” PEMF Executive Director Beth Wolfe says. “To be recognized by the mayor for something we’re doing means a lot. It also helps us get people aware of our mission.”

The foundation plans to launch a fundraising campaign later this month to further support emergency medical services in the area.

“Our hearts are fully in this, and we’re excited to help make this device that assists in saving lives more accessible in our region,” Wolfe says.

Wolfe says CPR is difficult to administer, especially in an ambulance. “If you put a LUCAS device on them [patients], it frees up paramedics to address the other issues with the patient. It’s also assisting paramedics with their own safety.”

PEMF believes that extensive studies have found the LUCAS device safe and effective to save patients in critical situations, noting that 99% of survivors had good neurological outcomes in a large randomized trial.

“It’s fitting that PEMF and LUCAS device are being recognized by the Office of the Mayor on Valentine’s Day,” says Wolfe. “Our goal is funding innovation to save lives, and we’re really excited to take it one step further by developing ways to get this equipment into the hands of our EMS professionals.”

Sarah Dunlap is a freelance writer who lives and writes in Pittsburgh. In her free time, she enjoys dancing and the arts. She trained in ballet for 16 years.