A Marble Cliff company has won an international award for the design of its LifeBelt resuscitation device.

A Marble Cliff company has won an international award for the design of its LifeBelt resuscitation device.

Deca-Medics won the $20,000 grand prize in the 2008 Create the Future Design contest sponsored by NASA Tech Briefs magazine and Dassault Systems SolidWorks Corp. LifeBelt was among a record 1,091 entries in the seventh annual contest.

"It's a nice validation of the work we've done,," said Thom Lach, Deca Medics co-founder and president and a resident of Upper Arlington. "We're really excited about the LifeBelt and its potential to save lives."

The LifeBelt is a device that makes it easier for anyone to perform high-quality CPR compressions in the event of a cardiac arrest.

"The key is to be able to continue to offer high-quality CPR to the patient," Lach said. "CPR is a great thing, but if you're not doing good quality CPR it's just not going to get the job done."

The average arrival time for paramedics is eight to 10 minutes, he said. But studies show that on average, persons performing CPR begin to fatigue in about two minutes.

As fatigue sets in. the effectiveness of the chest compression begins to decline, greatly reducing the chances of survival, Lach said.

The LifeBelt is a portable, lightweight device that can be attached to a victim quickly, allowing CPR to begin within 15 seconds or less, he said.

More importantly, a person using LifeBelt only has to use half the force to perform chest compressions, causing less fatigue and longer-lasting treatment, Lach said. The machine also provides a readout showing whether the compression depth is too deep or too shallow.

With their portability and ease of use, the LifeBelt could become as ubiquitous as fire extinguishers, he said.

The LifeBelt is a modification of a resuscitation device invented by Lach's father. Dr. Ralph D. Lach came up with the concept of a belt CPR device shortly after he performed the first balloon angioplasty in the Midwest in 1979. Now retired, he founded and served as CEO of the Columbus Cardiology Clinic for 35 years.

"He was just so busy with his practice that he was never able to take the concept any further," Thom Lach said.

Ralph Lach's original device received a patent in 1988.

His son, who had been working for a software company in California, recognized the potential of commercializing the concept.

"He had a great idea, and I knew we could take it a whole lot further," Thom Lach said.

The pair started Deca-Medics in 1994 and focused on developing a manual device that anyone could use, regardless of their size and strength, he said.

After a long period of study and trial and error, the LifeBelt is now being reviewed for approval by the Federal Drug Administration, Lach said.

More information about Deca-Medics and the LifeBelt is available at www.deca-medics.com.