What is an Ambu bag?

An Ambu bag is used in emergency situations before a stable air flow is in place. Typically, the patient is lying flat, and the airway is opened by slightly tilted the chin up. However, if a neck or spinal injury is suspected, the head is not moved, Instead, medical personnel thrust the jaw forward. A mask covers the patient’s nose and mouth, creating a seal. Then the patient is “bagged.” The emergency responder squeezes a bag that is attached by a tube to the mask. The bag self-inflates after each squeeze. Air comes from the immediate environment or from an attached oxygen tank. The rate of bag squeezing for adults is one every five to six seconds. The aim is 10 to 12 “breaths” per minute. For infants, the goal is 20 to 30 breaths, while older children should be treated with 16-20 breaths. During each squeeze, the bag is held for one to two seconds. Characteristics of certain patients make it more challenging for medical personnel to use Ambu bags. For example, patients with beards, very heavy individuals and senior citizens are harder to treat with this method.


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