The average person takes more than 26,000 breaths per day. A function so natural that we take it for granted most of the time breathing is vital to the circulation of oxygen throughout the body. Yet when breath fails a patient, basic life-saving techniques teach that airway, breathing, and circulation is among the first points of interest to rescuers. Known by the acronym “ABC,” life-saving techniques cannot begin until these three basic functions are verified or preserved yet few people are equipped to maintain a person’s airway in an emergency situation. This must be done mechanically by a ventilator.
A Brief History of the Ventilator
As the polio epidemic swept the nation in the mid-1920’s, those who died generally did so because they could no longer effectively move air through their lungs. As a result, the first ventilator was invented in 1928 and became known as the “iron lung.” Patients were placed in a chamber from their neck to their knees where negative pressure allowed air to travel into and out of weakened lungs. During World War II, as pilots began pushing the limits of altitude, the need for positive pressure ventilators became apparent. Less bulky and easier to use than their negative pressure counterparts, positive pressure ventilators became the accepted device in the medical community as well.
Shortly after their invention, ventilators began to drive a revolution in patient resuscitation. Gone were the days when patients who struggled to breathe were allowed to die because doctors lacked the ability to temporarily preserve the airway. Ventilator use became a fixture for those who were temporarily ill, in a medically induced coma or who had experienced disease or trauma to their lungs. Innovations in design and function of ventilators have pushed today’s models light years away from early negative pressure chambers. Fully adjustable, today’s models allow patients to be weaned off of positive pressure airflow and adjust to breathing room air as their condition improves. Likewise, invasive endotracheal tubes that were once the standard of care have given way, in many cases, to CPAP masks that allow patients to recover their ability to breathe without the risk of infection.
A Necessary Piece of Equipment
What was once a cumbersome piece of equipment has become portable, easy to use, and a vital part of every hospital, clinic, and medical office. Transport ventilators allow patients to be moved from one location to another without sacrificing their airway. Even clinical settings that do not have regular emergent resuscitation needs can benefit from having a ventilator on hand. Rescue breathing and CPR can only go so far in helping a patient who suddenly loses their ability to breathe. In the hands of a trained professional, a ventilator allows medical professionals to provide necessary resuscitation without having to wait for emergency response services.
To discuss which ventilator is right for you or for more information on the ventilators Foremost Medical Equipment carries, contact us for a personalized equipment consultation.