Four external compression machines are on their way to Cumberland County, but Dr. Mark Fox wants the county to consider buying more to make sure every ambulance can offer the critical cardiac emergency equipment.

“It’s invaluable to a single medic who might have a 20-minute ride in from out in the county,”  said Fox, who serves as medical director for Cumberland County Emergency Medical Services. 

The device performs chest compressions, allowing the paramedic to manage the patient’s airway, administer medication and monitor patient vital signs.

“This is such an integral component to cardiac care, I would suggest to you that all ambulances need them.”

The county’s finance committee approved the purchase of four Lucas Devices from Stryker Medical of Chicago when it met Sept. 25. The cost is $47,8884.32, and includes a $12,000 reduction for trade-in of out-dated equipment. 

The county has eight ambulances in service, however. 

“I don’t think it’s proper to have the public served by those four ambulances that have that care available and not the others,” Fox said. “I’d hate to see this equipment be the only equipment not on all the ambulances.”

Fox said he has witnessed these devices in action.

“I know what they can do,” Fox said. “I’ve seen them, in my opinion, salvage the lives of people who might otherwise not have survived.”

The department exceeded budget projections this past year, bringing in $4.9 million in revenue against a budget of $4 million. The county approved purchasing three ambulances to replace aging equipment and to hire two new personnel to staff a “day truck” to help improve ambulance response during peak times. 

The emergency services committee was receptive to the idea, but said the budget committee would need to determine how to fund the purchase of more devices. 

EMS Director Chris Miller said the equipment was a valuable addition to the EMS department’s tools.

“It’s a true game changer as far as saving lives,” Miller said. “I feel fortunate to get the four I got.”

Rebecca Stone, 3rd District commissioner, said Miller needed to talk with County Mayor Allen Foster and bring a recommendation forward.

“I’d rather that discussion take place before we go to budget,” she said.

The devices have a long usable life, Miller said. And because the company they purchase from also provides the department’s stretchers and cardiac monitors, the equipment integrates together. Stryker also provides a device to use while any devices are out of service for maintenance or repair.

Stone said she felt a vote of support might be in order during the meeting Oct. 1. 

“Then it doesn’t need to come back to this committee,” she said.

Sue York, 1st District commissioner, supported the motion, which was approved. Jim Blalock, 8th District commissioner, asked to see the proposal before it was recommended to the budget committee.


Heather Mullinix is editor of the Crossville Chronicle. She covers schools and education in Cumberland County. She may be reached at