In the 1990s, Willy Vistung, a Norwegian paramedic, saw a resuscitation attempt on a patient being transported on a stretcher, and pondered how cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) could be improved. He approached Professor Stig Steen of Lund University Hospital, Sweden, with an idea to overcome the limitations of manual CPR by making an automated chest compressor. In the end of the 90s, the development of the LUCAS device was started.
A series of experimental studies were made by Professor Stig Steen and his team to better understand the pathophysiology of a cardiac arrest as well as the efficacy of chest compressions. The research got global attention and showed that effective chest compressions were critical for outcomes. LUCAS showed to significantly improve coronary perfusion pressures and cerebral blood flow compared to manual compressions in experimental pig studies.
Engineers worked with an equally important aspect of the development; to design a device that was user-friendly, powerful and reliable and yet easy to carry, apply and manage in the stressful situation of a cardiac arrest.
In 2003, the first pneumatic LUCAS 1 devices were used clinically in ambulances in Sweden. LUCAS was immediately appreciated as it freed up hands, reduced the chaos around the patient and increased safety when providing CPR in a moving ambulance. In 2009, a second generation, battery-operated LUCAS 2 was launched globally.
A rapidly growing number of Emergency Medical Systems and hospitals in the US, Europe and Asia starts to use the device. In June 2016 the third generation of LUCAS was launched as LUCAS 3.
Over two hundred clinical and experimental publications have investigated the safety, efficacy and feasibility of LUCAS in various settings. LUCAS has enabled patients being saved that would otherwise have been considered futile, extending the reach of care by allowing for prolonged CPR, transportation to ECMO and coronary intervention (PCI) during LUCAS CPR.