Why are Respirators so Indispensable?


Countries across the globe are trying to secure as many respirators as they can for their corona infected patients. Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York has recently stated that the city needs more than 15.000 respirators, as they expect that New York will become an epicenter of the corona pandemic.

While most of the infected population experiences only mild symptoms, around 6% of patients will be in critical condition and will require respirators. What exactly are respirators and how do they work?

Mechanical respirators are machines that provide breathing support to patients with severe respiratory issues which target the lungs. First of all, the patient is administered sedatives which help the muscles relax, and then intubation is performed – a tube is placed into the trachea through the mouth. Afterwards, the tube is attached to the respiratory apparatus and the medical staff can control how fast air and oxygen reach the lungs.

What is the point at which a respirator is deemed necessary to the patient? Dr. John Wilson, a pulmonologist, explains that, before intubating, the doctors always try less invasive methods like oxygen masks.

However, David Story, a Professor from the Melbourne University believes that in this case the medical staff should avoid less invasive methods – the patients could continue to cough and therefore infect the hospital staff.

If breathing increases from 15 to 28 breaths per minute, that is a clear sign a respirator will be necessary.

Professor Sarah Ranganathan believes that if heavy breathing is observed in a patient he must be automatically attached to a respirator. Oxygen masks and bags can be used as a short-term solution, but the patient must be attached to a respirator in a matter of 30 minutes.