You’ve probably been hearing a lot about ventilators amid all of the COVID-19 news. LifeFlight crews carry advanced ventilators on every transport. We thought it might be helpful to share some details about this important life-sustaining technology. Ventilators are mechanical devices that take over breathing for patients who are unable to breathe sufficiently on their own. They can be adjusted to control the rate of breathing, the percentage of oxygen being delivered, the amount of pressure being used to inflate the lungs, and the inhalation and exhalation time for each breath. Because they are complex machines, crew members must maintain appropriate training and experience to manage vented patients effectively.
Another piece of equipment on board the aircraft goes hand in hand with the ventilator – a handheld blood analysis device called an iStat. With a small blood sample, the iStat provides critical information about the patient’s condition in just 2 or 3 minutes. Armed with that information, crew members make adjustments to the ventilator to improve the care being delivered. Although ventilators are currently associated with COVID-19 patients, LifeFlight has always used them for a variety of patients including those with respiratory failure, trauma to the lungs, brain injuries, an altered mental state or who are not able to protect their airway on their own.
You can learn about other medical equipment the flight crew carries here.