The devastating nature of the COVID-19 illness has called for immediate indigenous development of ventilators and prudent utilization of available mechanical ventilators for the care of critically ill COVID-19 patients in intensive care units. The non-availability of sufficient number of ventilators to meet such an unprecedented situation meant that alternatives had to be found immediately to provide respiratory assistance to patients waiting for ventilators to be available in ICUs.  There has been an unmet need to rapidly develop an easy-to-operate, emergency breathing assist devices for such a scenario. It is here the Wipro-Chitra EBAS attains significance.

The Thiruvananthapuram-based Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences & Technology (SCTIMST), functioning under the Department of Science and Technology, Govt of India, has developed an Emergency Breathing Assist System (EBAS), to meet this need. The device is not a replacement for a mechanical ventilator but works as a bridge for a few hours to few days before conventional mechanical ventilation can be provided.

The device has all the essential features to perform this function and is compliant with national/international standards and guidelines. It is manufactured using components sourced from established supply chains within the country. A team of engineers comprising Sarath S Nair, Vinod Kumar V and Nagesh D S from the Department of Medical Device Engineering and Prof Thomas Koshy and Prof Manikantan from the department of Anaesthesia of SCTIMST developed the specifications and technology. The knowhow and design of the Emergency Breathing Assist System (EBAS) were transferred to Wipro 3D in April 2020 for further joint development.

The product is now ready for commercial production under the brand name Air Bridge and will be jointly launched by SCTIMST and Wipro 3D Bangalore on July 7 via a video conference. Dr VK Saraswat, President of SCTIMST will launch the product in the presence of  Dr Asha Kishore, Director, SCTIMST, Dr Rajiv Tayal, DST, Pratik Kumar- CEO- Wipro Infrastructure Engineering and Ajay Parikh, Vice President ,Wipro 3D.

According to SCTIMST, the Wipro-Chitra EBAS, AirBridge provides positive pressure and volume-controlled ventilation through automatic, cyclical, inflation and deflation of a Bag Valve Mask (BVM) system. The essential parameters of ventilation such as tidal volume, breaths per minute, inspiration to expiration (I:E) ratio can be adjusted by the operator. The device computes and displays some of the important parameters in use.

There are built-in alarms for out- of- range and SOS operations. For clinical application, the device will have to be used along with standard consumables like breathing tubes, PEEP valve and bacterial- viral filters before connecting to the patient. The device is portable, battery-operated, has low running costs is user-friendly and does not need an intensive care specialist to operate it.It requires very little training to operate the equipment and nurse or paramedic can operate it. Air Bridge can be used for ventilator support in COVID 19 related or Non-COVID 19 related emergency situations in hospital wards and during transportation of patients in ambulances till conventional mechanical ventilation can be provided in an ICU. It can also be used in small hospitals without central oxygen supply system using oxygen cylinders in emergency situations.

By Manoj

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