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Acad Emerg Med. 1995 Aug;2(8):719-24.

Out-of-hospital ventilation: bag--valve device vs transport ventilator.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University of Cincinnati Medical Center, OH 45267-0558, USA.



To examine the patterns of out-of-hospital airway management and to compare the efficacy of bag-valve ventilation with that of the use of a transport ventilator for intubated patients.


A prospective, nonrandomized, convenience sample of 160 patients requiring airway management in the out-of-hospital urban setting was analyzed. A survey inquiring about airway and ventilatory management was completed by emergency medical services (EMS) personnel, and arterial blood gas (ABG) samples were obtained within 5 minutes of patient arrival in the ED. The ABG parameters were compared for patients grouped by different airway techniques and presence or absence of cardiac arrest (systolic blood pressure < 50 mm Hg) upon ED presentation.


Over a one-year period, 160 surveys were returned. The majority (62%) of the patients were men; the population mean age was 61 +/- 19 years. Presenting ABGs were obtained for 76 patients; 17% (13/76) had systemic perfusion and 83% (63/76) were in cardiac arrest. There was no difference in ABG parameters between the intubated cardiac arrest patients ventilated with a transport ventilator (pH 7.17 +/- 0.17, PaCO2 37 +/- 20 torr, and PaO2 257 +/- 142 torr) and those ventilated with a bag-valve device (pH 7.20 +/- 0.16, PaCO2 42 +/- 21 torr, and PaO2 217 +/- 138 torr). The patients ventilated via an esophageal obturator airway (EOA) device had impaired gas exchange, compared with the groups who had endotracheal (ET) intubation (pH 7.09 +/- 0.13, PaCO2 76 +/- 30 torr, and PaO2 75 +/- 35 torr). The intubated patients not in cardiac arrest had similar ABG parameters whether ventilated manually with a bag-valve device or with a transport ventilator. Endotracheal intubation was successfully accomplished in 93% (123/132) of attempted cases.


In this sample, ET intubation was the most frequently used airway by EMS providers. When ET intubation was accomplished, adequate ventilation could be achieved using either bag-valve ventilation or a transport ventilator. Ventilation via the EOA proved inadequate.

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