New Minneapolis-made CPR tool helps save lives by elevating patients' torsos

A brand new CPR tool designed for first responders is manufactured right here in Minneapolis.

Only a few places are using it as part of a research project, including two fire departments in the Twin Cities metro area. Doctors say the device will save more lives and help patients recover.

The device is called the Elegard and it’s stored in an Andover Fire Department vehicle. The department is just one of three in the entire nation that has something like it. It’s a simple concept and this research will show just how much it can help during CPR.

When seconds matter, first responders fall back on their hours of training. For the responders in Andover, the training now consists of working with the Elegard machine.

The Elegard slowly elevates the head and upper torso during CPR.

“The physiology of elevating the head and chest up markedly improves blood flow to the brain and heart, and we’re hopeful implementing this new science will improve our survival rates even further,” said Dr. Charles Lick, the Allina Health EMS medical director.

Lick is overseeing the research project, which looks at how to best implement the Elegard device. He’s working with the Andover and Coon Rapids Fire Departments who each received a machine last month.

“We have a majority of our cardiac arrest in the north metro area,” he said. “It’s the busiest area. That’s why we rolled this out initially.”

Those using the Elegard are trained to perform CPR using a pit crew-style approach along with the latest tools. After two minutes, the patient is slowly raised up with the device.

“With all of this new technology, it really does promote better blood flow to the brain and heart and I think that’s helped lead to some of our great neurological outcomes in our patients,” Lick said.

Over the coming months, Andover Fire Department first responders will be giving feedback on using the Elegard.

“This is just simply another advancement in technology that can likely save lives and save a brain,” said Chief Jerry Streich, of Andover Fire Department.

His crews have not tried it out in the field yet, but they know that when they do, it could mean a second chance for the patient they’re working to save.

“I’ve been in this business since the [19]80s and I can tell you I didn’t see a lot of people get up and walk back to the fire station and say thank you back in the day,” Streich said. “We see much more of it today than we ever had simply because of technology.”

The devices cost about $6,500 and the goal for Allina Health is to get one to all their first responders and in all of their ambulances.