A rapidly organized volunteer team of engineers, doctors, computer scientists, and others based in one university is working to implement a safe, affordable emergency usage solution that could be developed rapidly worldwide to solve the shortage
FREMONT, CA: No matter which calculation one uses, for patients with Covid-19, there are not enough ventilators. The coronavirus is straining the global healthcare infrastructure, and there is an especially limited supply of one piece of lifesaving medical equipment: automatic ventilators. Ventilators are instruments that support people while they are unable to breathe on their own.
A rapidly organized volunteer team of engineers, doctors, computer scientists, and others based in one university is working to implement a safe, affordable emergency usage solution that could be developed rapidly worldwide to solve the shortage. A simple ventilator system that could be assembled with around 100 dollars worth of parts was built by students working in collaboration with local doctors. By compressing a traditional Bag-Valve-Mask (BVM) with a pivoting cam arm, the ventilator provides breathing, removing the need for a human operator for the BVM.
The original version was made out of plastic, measuring 285 x 170 x 200 mm (11.25 x 6.7 x 8 inches) and weighing 9 lbs (4.1 kg). It is operated by a 14.8 VDC battery-powered electric motor and features an adjustable tidal capacity of up to 750 ml. Through user-friendly input knobs, tidal volume and number of breaths per minute are set.
To show the over-pressurization of the device, the prototype also contains an assist-control mode and a warning. The team is especially concerned about the possibility for well-meaning but incompetent do-it-yourselfers to attempt to replicate such a device without the requisite clinical skills or hardware expertise that can run for days; it will take about 1 million cycles over two weeks to help a ventilated patient.
A fault-tolerant code is required, as ventilators are precision devices that perform a life-critical operation. The team also incorporated checked information tools about the therapeutic usage of ventilators and the criteria for preparation and supervision of using those devices to their website to curb the dissemination of disinformation or poorly thought-out guidance.