Training medical students in bag-valve-mask technique as an alternative to mechanical ventilation in a disaster surge setting

Prehosp Disaster Med. Sep-Oct 2009;24(5):402-6. doi: 10.1017/s1049023x00007226.


Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate the rapid training of medical students and their ability to provide effective manual ventilation using the bag-valve-mask technique.

Methods: A rapid training session highlighting essential aspects of the correct bag-valve-mask technique was given to 31 medical students. This was followed by a simulated experience with a certified respiratory therapist, monitored according to a checklist of essential bag-valve-mask (BVM) competency requirements. Pre-test and post-test surveys assessed the medical students' knowledge and ability to provide adequate BVM technique.

Results: Thirty-one students participated. Pre-survey results demonstrated a clear identification of the potential risk for a disaster (pandemic, natural, bioterrorist) with 55% of students responding that a definite risk did exist. Their usefulness in such an event also was ascertained with 55% of students replying they would assist with basic medical tasks, assist doctors, or assist with cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Post-survey results administered after a 30-minute didactic session on the basic features of resuscitation equipment and the essential components of BVM technique demonstrated that a majority of students knew the proper head positioning maneuvers in cases not involving trauma (93%) and in cases involving trauma (72%). All students completed and passed the competency checklist.

Conclusions: Medical students can be rapidly trained and be utilized as a potential resource to carry out the potentially lifesaving task of manual ventilation using the BVM technique in a disaster situation in which the availability of mechanical ventilators and respiratory therapists may be limited.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Data Collection
  • Disaster Planning*
  • Education, Medical*
  • Educational Measurement
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Masks*
  • Resource Allocation
  • Respiration, Artificial / instrumentation*
  • Respiration, Artificial / methods
  • Students, Medical*
  • Wounds and Injuries