Objectives: To determine if a ventilator available in an emergency department could quickly be modified to provide ventilation for four adults simultaneously.
Methods: Using lung simulators, readily available plastic tubing, and ventilators (840 Series Ventilator; Puritan-Bennett), human lung simulators were added in parallel until the ventilator was ventilating the equivalent of four adults. Data collected included peak pressure, positive end-expiratory pressure, total tidal volume, and total minute ventilation. Any obvious asymmetry in the delivery of gas to the lung simulators was also documented. The ventilator was run for almost 12 consecutive hours (5.5 hours of pressure control and more than six hours of volume control).
Results: Using readily available plastic tubing set up to minimize dead space volume, the four lung simulators were easily ventilated for 12 hours using one ventilator. In pressure control (set at 25 mm H2O), the mean tidal volume was 1,884 mL (approximately 471 mL/lung simulator) with an average minute ventilation of 30.2 L/min (or 7.5 L/min/lung simulator). In volume control (set at 2 L), the mean peak pressure was 28 cm H2O and the minute ventilation was 32.5 L/min total (8.1 L/min/lung simulator).
Conclusions: A single ventilator may be quickly modified to ventilate four simulated adults for a limited time. The volumes delivered in this simulation should be able to sustain four 70-kg individuals. While further study is necessary, this pilot study suggests significant potential for the expanded use of a single ventilator during cases of disaster surge involving multiple casualties with respiratory failure.