David Blaine and Apnea

The David Blaine holding-his-breath stunt is pretty amazing, and rather scary. It looks like he pulled it off with rigorous training, and lots of medical supervision. Time has a good wrap up in How David Blaine Held His Breath:

With or without pure oxygen, holding your breath is a difficult and dangerous pasttime even for elite athletes. When not done carefully, it can lead to drowning, or to potential tissue damage in the heart, brains or lungs. Preliminary results from Potkin’s research into apnea’s long-term effects show some abnormal brain scans among young, extreme free divers. There’s still much to learn about the phenomenon; as a medical student, Potkin recalls, he was told that no one could hold his breath for more than five minutes without suffering brain damage. Now, he wants to see if the technique can be used for medical purposes — and he’s hoping Blaine’s latest stunt provides the impetus for a greater scientific understanding of how to hold one’s breath.

Dr. Potkin is on staff at the Beverly Hills Center for Hyperbaric Medicine.

Have any of the RTs out there worked with people doing this kind of training?

I’d imagine when this goes wrong, it goes really wrong.

May 2, 2008

Test Post from BlogDesk

This is a test blog post using BlogDesk. this is only a test.

April 1, 2008

world copd day

I had not heard of World COPD Day, but here it is: World COPD Day.

Also, This is a test post to see if I can post using Windows Live Writer.

April 1, 2008

Home Made Ventilators used during the Polio Epidemic

I recently posted a piece on my own blog about the use of home made ventilators during the polio epidemic of the late 1940s and early 1950s. Here is the link.

Home made Polio Epidemic Ventilators

The need for ventilators was greater than the supply, and it appeared that many people especially children would die as a result. Some of the original inventors and developers of ventilators including Drinker, produced designs for ventilators that could be built from easily obtainable components and constructed by craftsmen. These home built ventilators were used to save the lives of people who could not obtain a commercial ventilator to use in this emergency. There are pictures and assembly drawings of these ventilators.

The Pandemic Ventilator Project

February 3, 2008

Oxygen + Smoking = Problem

Don’t do this please! Smoker, 90, critically burned as oxygen tank ignites

A 90-year-old Ypsilanti woman was criticially injured Thursday when the oxygen system she was using to breathe caught on fire while she was smoking.

Firefighters responded to the 400 block of West Michigan Avenue around 11:30 p.m. to find the woman and her couch on fire. The woman sustained second- and third-degree burns on most of her body and was taken to the University of Michigan Hospital. Her condition was unavailable Friday.

The woman was involved in a similar fire in May while she was smoking, but she was not hurt, firefighters said.

Damage at the apartment was estimated at about $1,000, firefighters said

October 19, 2007

Lung Hoover Bag

Pretty clever campaign, from Greenfamily Youth Association of Environment Protection:
Lung Hoover

September 30, 2007

Bill Fralick, RT Recruiter; healthcarescouts.com

I got this email recently:

My name is Bill Fralick and I am the Director of the Respiratory Therapy division for Healthcare Scouts and a respiratory therapist. I am looking for Respiratory Therapists nationwide. Healthcare Scouts are the premier career advisors for RT’s nationally. Give me a call at (800) 708-0605 ext 128 or visit our website www.healthcarescouts.com to find out what career opportunities we can guide you to!

April 16, 2007

RT Jobs in Virginia Beach

Delores Jacobson wrote:

We are looking for CRTs and RRTs for our staffing agency in Virginia Beach. Do you know of any sites that cater to Respiratory Techs that have “Help Wanted” listings? If you know of a site or are intrested in securing employment as a CRT or RRT in Virginia Beach-Hampton Roads area, please email me at djacobson@arcadiaservices.com or call 757-497-6459. Thanks!

April 12, 2007

First Design for Pandemic Ventilator Posted

I have the first design for the Pandemic Ventilator up on my blog at Pandemic Ventilator Project

This is a design for a ventilator you can build yourself from readily available parts such a pipe, tubing electrically operated valves, a Programable Logic Controller (PLC) and a regular computer (PC) if a pandemic arrives. The software to drive the equipment and operate all of the alarm systems will be available as free and open source. Please click on the Digg icon and send this URL to your friends if you think that this is a worthwhile project and that I should keep working on it.

March 20, 2007

The Organizations We Trust

Here is another piece I wrote dealing with the ventilator shortage problem.

In 1984 the Canadian Red Cross publicly informed hemophiliacs that the blood products it distributed were safe, even though not all sources of blood were tested. Spokesmen for the Red Cross also referred to the need to look at the cost benefit ratio in treating hemophiliacs. It was later found that more than 800 of Canada’s 2500 hemophiliacs had contracted AIDS from using the untested blood. About 95% of them contracted Hepatitis C. Even two years after it was known that untested and untreated blood was dangerous to use, the Canadian Red Cross was still distributing its older untested stocks.

This incident was a blot on the integrity of public health care organizations in Canada. Many people asked afterwards, “How could this happen?”, “They knew the dangers”. The answer of course was that they placed fiscal accountability and efficiency above the needs of the people that placed their trust in them. The Canadian Red Cross was not the only group that fell short of their responsibility. This same pattern was repeated by other organizations in other countries of the world as well.

We all tend to place a great deal of trust in organizations such as the Red Cross. Such groups we trust are the FDA, the CDC, HHS. In Canada we have The Ontario ministry of Health and Long Term Care, Health Canada and The Public Health Agency of Canada. These groups have developed plans to deal with a pandemic. They all acknowledge that there will be a severe shortage of ventilators. The plans they have to increase the availability of ventilators fall far short of even their own predictions. Again they know the dangers, but are not doing enough to solve the problem. They have to be fiscally accountable and efficient you know. That old cost benefit ratio.

They have a plan to deal with it though; it involves rationing. They will pick who lives and dies. You can find lots of these plans on the web. Just Google Pandemic Ventilator Plan Ration. Now Ontario, Canada where I live, has 1,096 ventilator support beds in ICUs in the province. The total demand for ventilators in a pandemic could easily be twice this amount. There are also 1,400 chronic ventilator patients on other ventilators. The published triage plans are not very specific on whether it will involve taking ventilators away from sicker chronic patients to give to the pandemic patients. I hope we can trust them.

for more information you can see my blog at

February 26, 2007