Michigan 9-year-old works to raise money for CPR machines for fire departments

Lucas has raised $3,100; each machine costs $16,000

ROSE TOWNSHIP, Mich. – A Rose Township 9-year-old has launched a grown-up mission to save lives.

During a tour of the Howell Fire Department, Lucas Vetter was impressed with a machine called the LUCAS.

UPDATEMichigan 9-year-old reaches first milestone in goal to buy CPR machines for fire departments

The LUCAS is a mechanical chest compression device that can be used during longer resuscitation attempts.

"It's highly effective CPR," said Howell Fire Chief Andy Pless. "We're doing 30 minutes of CPR and the guys get fatigued, no matter how many people we put on, you know, on the scene, they still get fatigued and this machine, like I said, it doesn't get tired."

The LUCAS can be used in place of manual CPR done by the firefighters. The Howell Fire Department covers nearly 150 square miles and operates out of  four fire stations but only has one LUCAS machine.  However, young Lucas Vetter came up with a plan to change that.

"We got home and Lucas went downstairs, all on his own, I didn't think anything of it, and he came upstairs and he handed my husband and I an orange piece of construction paper that he wrote out his business plan on, how he's going to help fund-raise for more of these," Kerry Vetter, Lucas' Mom, said.

"Not only does it help save the patient's life, it also helps the firemen because during transport they can't be buckled in while doing manual CPR, and with this, they can be," Lucas Vetter said. 

Lucas convinced Stryker Medical, the company that makes LUCAS, to loan him a demo LUCAS to help with his fundraising pitches. He goes to businesses, shows them how LUCAS works and explains to them his reasons why he thinks they should donate to his cause.

"I thought it would be a good idea to fund-raise for because I care about people and the community and I just thought it would be good for the firemen to have freed-up hands so they can help more than one person at the same time," Lucas said.

Local 4 was there when Lucas made his presentation to First National Bank in Howell. Tom Gisewhite, the marketing director, said Lucas' presentation was one of the top 10 he's ever seen.

"To come in and say, 'I'm passionate about this, this is why I think you should support it, here is what it does, and this is why it is important to the community and why it should be important to you.' You know, for a 9 year old to do that, I have adults that make requests to the bank that can't put all those together, so it was, it was pretty impressive," Gisewhite said.

The bank donated $1,000 to Lucas' cause.

Lucas said he gets butterflies in his stomach and a little nervous before a presentation, but the end goal is worth it.

"It's really cool. Like, it will help the firefighters, it frees up their hands so they can go help someone else, and it helps them because when they're on transport, with manual CPR, they can't be buckled in, and with the LUCAS, they can be buckled in safe and have this and still have it working," Lucas said.

Lucas wants to see every fire station in Michigan to get a LUCAS hands-free CPR machine.

His parents are impressed with their son and hope he continues to have big ideas.

"I don't know where it's going to go, but we're very proud of him already," Kerry Vetter said.

"I care about our community and I care about people. I had an idea and I decided to act on it, and I think more people should do it," Lucas said.

Lucas has raised $3,100 already; however, each LUCAS costs $16,000.

Lucas is currently collecting donations for the Howell Fire Department, but his fundraising efforts are for all fire departments in Livingston County.

People who want to donate can write their checks to the fire department of their choice and must include in the memo, "Lucas for LUCAS."

For more information, you can check out the Lucas for LUCAS Facebook page by clicking here.

You can also contact Kerry Vetter at kerrygvetter@gmail.com or by calling 248-767-0511.

About the Authors:

Kimberly Gill joined the Local 4 News team in November 2014. She was named Personality of the Year in 2009 by the Ohio Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame. She’s also a two-time Emmy winner.