AFR saves former police officer suffering heart attack with LUCAS device


Monday morning, a retired police officer who nearly died after having a heart attack, got to meet the Albuquerque Fire Rescue team that helped save his life.

The man was rescued by AFR last summer, and they say it couldn’t have been done without their new LUCAS device that was purchased by the city last year. 

“Happy to be alive,” said Tom Haralson, who survived a heart attack. “Last July 24th, I had a massive heart attack and my wife called and the firemen showed up.”

Albuquerque Fire and Rescue crews from Station 15 in the heights arrived on scene only to find Haralson unresponsive and his wife in distress.

“I wasn’t conscious,” Haralson said. “I was totally out of it.”

The crew sprung into action using a life-saving device that is fairly new to the department.

“We used the LUCAS mechanical CPR device, which provides way better CPR than manual,” said Captain Robert Laprise, AMS supervisor.

Responding to more than 500 cardiac arrests each year, AFR says the LUCAS device, purchased in part by the city last year, has been a huge success.

“It does more effective compressions then we can do,” Cpt. Laprise said. “And it never gets tired.”

They say his chance for survival wouldn’t have been as high without the device. Haralson is glad they had it that summer day.

“People don’t usually tell you their ‘thank you,’ and I saw that for my 20 years as a cop,” Haralson said. “This is my way to go back and say thank you to these guys who don’t get enough thanks.”

“Being able to actually come here and see that his wife and him, they have smiles ear to ear,” said Stephen Sanchez, AFR alarm room driver. “Being a part of the team that made it happen, it’s really worth its weight in gold.”

AFR says it’s one of the only departments in the country with the LUCAS device. AFR has 17 of them. 

Those devices cost $21,000 a piece. The department just recently purchased them.

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