Can EMS Providers Provide Appropriate Tidal Volumes in a Simulated Adult-sized Patient with a Pediatric-sized Bag-Valve-Mask?

Jeffrey Siegler, Melissa Kroll, Susan Wojcik, Hawnwan Philip Moy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Introduction: In the prehospital setting, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) professionals rely on providing positive pressure ventilation with a bag-valve-mask (BVM). Multiple emergency medicine and critical care studies have shown that lung-protective ventilation protocols reduce morbidity and mortality. Our primary objective was to determine if a group of EMS professionals could provide ventilations with a smaller BVM that would be sufficient to ventilate patients. Secondary objectives included 1) if the pediatric bag provided volumes similar to lung-protective ventilation in the hospital setting and 2) compare volumes provided to the patient depending on the type of airway (mask, King tube, and intubation). Methods: Using a patient simulator of a head and thorax that was able to record respiratory rate, tidal volume, peak pressure, and minute volume via a laptop computer, participants were asked to ventilate the simulator during six 1-minute ventilation tests. The first scenario was BVM ventilation with an oropharyngeal airway in place ventilating with both an adult- and pediatric-sized BVM, the second scenario had a supraglottic airway and both bags, and the third scenario had an endotracheal tube and both bags. Participants were enrolled in convenience manner while they were on-duty and the research staff was able to travel to their stations. Prior to enrolling, participants were not given any additional training on ventilation skills. Results: We enrolled 50 providers from a large, busy, urban fire-based EMS agency with 14.96 (SD = 9.92) mean years of experience. Only 1.5% of all breaths delivered with the pediatric BVM during the ventilation scenarios were below the recommended tidal volume. A greater percentage of breaths delivered in the recommended range occurred when the pediatric BVM was used (17.5% vs 5.1%, p < 0.001). Median volumes for each scenario were 570.5mL, 664.0mL, 663.0mL for the pediatric BMV and 796.0mL, 994.5mL, 981.5mL for the adult BVM. In all three categories of airway devices, the pediatric BVM provided lower median tidal volumes (p < 0.001). Conclusion: The study suggests that ventilating an adult patient is possible with a smaller, pediatric-sized BVM. The tidal volumes recorded with the pediatric BVM were more consistent with lung-protective ventilation volumes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-78
Number of pages5
JournalPrehospital Emergency Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2017


  • BVM
  • lung protection
  • simulation
  • tidal volume
  • ventilation


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