How Does a Medical Suction Machine Work?

Have you ever stopped to think about the fact that one of your most important pieces of EMS equipment is also one of your simplest? Such is the case with medical suction machines. The ability to generate effective negative pressure that is then channeled via a portable suction unit means that even the most clogged airway can be cleared. And there’s nothing that can replace this most valuable of machines.

That’s not to say that medical suction has remained unchanged over the past several decades. Today’s suction units have evolved into durable, lightweight, technologically sophisticated machines. So, let’s take a quick look at the fundamentals of modern medical suction machines.


Some of the earliest suction machines relied on hand-cranking to generate a vacuum, which was then used to funnel bodily fluids into a collection receptacle. Modern portable suction machines typically rely on rechargeable batteries, although some units utilize alkaline and even defibrillator batteries. Battery power enables these machines to be highly portable, while still delivering effective suction. Sophisticated units even include a battery maintenance system that alerts the user when the batteries are running low and prevents deep discharge by disengaging the batteries from the vacuum pump, thereby lengthening the life of the batteries.



Today’s technology not only provides efficient power sources, but also makes medical suction machines more lightweight and durable, as well as safer. Tough, weather-resistant exteriors protect the high-tech electronics that produce the vacuum, while disposable, high-grade plastics guard against pathogens and make cleaning the units a snap.



Modern construction using lightweight materials means today’s suction machines are smaller and more portable than ever. Some even fit snugly within an airway bag and are ideal for tactical medical scenarios. With portability like this, there’s no excuse not to include the suction unit on each and every call!



High-quality suction units are not only portable and efficient, but they are also effective. Some include adjustable vacuum pressure, which allows you to dial back the pressure when working on pediatrics and geriatrics, protecting their fragile tissues. An array of catheters, each designed for a specific purpose, enables rescuers to evacuate any airway, no matter the fluid. Even blood and traumatized tissue are no match for a large evacuation tool. And for those difficult airways, a hypercurved tip means even the most anterior trachea can be suctioned.

Today’s medical suction machines reflect improvements in technology that enhance emergency care. But remember that not all suction machines are created equal, so be sure to choose the top of the line.