Florida Man’s Invention Designed to Make CPR Easier

NAPLES – The idea came from a broom handle and plunger.

Now, part-time Naples resident Joe Hanson has federal approval to market his new CPR device that makes chest compressions easy for cardiopulmonary resuscitation on adults, including audio that times the procedure.

Dr. Robert Tober, emergency medical services director in Collier County, has been helping Hanson with his invention, called CPR RsQ Assist, to make it a must-have piece of equipment for performing hands-only CPR.

“The device is self-prompting and virtually foolproof,” Tober said. “This makes the aerobic effort of CPR easier. You are (positioned) eight inches higher so it is more comfortable.”

Hanson, 71, who worked in cardiac medical device distribution during his career, invented CPR RsQ with his wife, Leila Hanson. The couple lives in Milwaukee and Naples. Tober provided feedback at different stages of the design development.

“We started it three years ago,” Hanson said, adding that two everyday items – a broom handle and a plunger – were the inspiration for the invention.

With approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted Dec. 10, 2013, Hanson’s company – which bears the same name as the device – is starting widespread marketing. The device costs $79, and with a case for mounting in the wall, the price is $122, according to the company website, cprrsqassist.com.

“Everybody can afford that,” Hanson said. “The rollout is a month old so it’s brand new.”

Sudden cardiac arrest, where the heart stops functioning, is the leading cause of death in the U.S. but prompt CPR greatly improves the odds of survival. The American Heart Association recommends 100 chest compressions per minute for at least two minutes. The hands-only chest compressions keep blood flowing from the heart to the brain.

The CPR RsQ Assist device is made of silicone and soft plastic. Voice and visual commands tell the user where to place the device on the chest and guides a user for the pressure.

“It counts for you,” Hanson said. “You push at the proper cadence.”

The beauty of it is that the user doesn’t have to touch a cardiac arrest victim directly for doing the compressions, which had always carried some stigma, Hanson said. Another plus is the device’s base is about four times the size of someone’s hands and spreads out the energy of the compressions, Hanson said.

What motivated Hanson to develop CPR RsQ has been the low survival rate nationally of cardiac arrest patients, which he said has been unchanged at about 5 percent since CPR was developed 50 years ago.

“It is not an acceptable number,” he said.

Seattle is the envy of EMS agencies nationwide with a hospital discharge survival for patients after sudden cardiac arrest of 63 percent, Tober said.

“That’s an incredible accomplishment,” he said, adding that Seattle’s success is due to widespread public education about the hands-only chest compressions on adults in cardiac arrest.

The survival rate in Collier fluctuates from 26 percent to 38 percent, EMS Capt. Les Williams said. Dispatchers for 911 do a good job of instructing the public to start hands-only chest compressions on someone in advance of first responders arriving, Williams said.

The CPR device is only approved for use on people age 8 or older, Tober said.

Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is still advised for infants but not for adults, he said.

That’s because research has found continuous and uninterrupted chest compressions are more beneficial for adults and key for improving survivability. There is enough blood still in the adult’s heart that the compressions send the blood to the brain to keep the brain alive, Tober said.

The compressions also have a recoil effect in the chest to create a vacuum and allow the heart to refill with blood, he said.

For infants, instances of cardiac arrest are almost always based on a catastrophic respiratory problem, so a child needs both chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation every six seconds.

Tober wants all firefighters, law enforcement officers and paramedics to have one of the CPR RsQ devices within hands’ reach, besides it being in private hands.

Hanson said the goal is doable because Collier, under Tober’s tenure, was in the forefront 15 years ago for getting automatic external defibrillators for shocking a stopped heart back into rhythm.

“I think this is the next logical step,” Hanson said.

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