Pre-Hospital Care Suction – PART ONE.


As you know when we need to use suction in Pre-Hospital Care it is normally because things are going very badly! We carry hand powered suctions units but they generally provide poor suction,  require a very odd technique or are often damaged in the bag and fail to work at all. As long as we are being good clinicians (That’s us #AirwayNerds) and take the electric powered suction to the patient where indicated then what concerns should we have?


A 2013 study showed a 2.4% failure rate of suction units when tested, this may not sound too bad but your average UK EMS service with approx 500 clinical vehicles means that on any given day somewhere out there approx 12-13 units may fail to work when required! See the Pre-Hospital study HERE.


Further to that many units are working but not ready for use, i.e tubing and catheter are still in sealed packets to satisfy IPC or are not with machine. See the Hospital based study HERE.


So what can we do:


  • Buy quality electric powered suction units and service them as required.
  • Accept hand powered suction units are usually no more than ornamental so deploy electric powered suction unit in to the scene more often.
  • Always check and prepare suction units at start of every shift.
  • If in a Suction critical situation such as SALAD then request a second vehicle so you have a standby suction unit as some will not run for long either due to type or battery age.


Next in part TWO we are going to look at suction catheters……………….