How Does a Portable Suction Machine Work?

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of being able to treat patients quickly and competently wherever you find them. With makeshift intensive care units and emergency departments erected in tents across the country, medical providers have had to make do with limited resources and treat patients as efficiently as possible without accelerating the spread of a deadly pandemic. 


Portable suction allows you to suction patients in the waiting room, ambulances, and even their own homes without moving them through large crowds of waiting patients or delaying care. Yet many providers remain skeptical, citing concerns about battery life and suction power. So how exactly does a portable suction machine work? Here’s what you need to know. 


Portable Suction Power 

A suction machine is only as good as its suction power, because machines that lose power or lack sufficient strength may not be able to adequately treat patients. In some cases, weak suction may even increase the risk of injury because of the need for repeated suctioning. A key consideration when choosing a portable suction machine is suction power. 


Quality machines can deliver suction similar to that of wall-mounted units. Check the specifications of the unit you are considering to assess its quality of suction. The S-SCORT III Portable Suction Unit, for example, boasts 30 LPM (or higher) clinical airflow. 


In addition to suction power, it’s important for the machine to offer adjustable suction at a consistent, predictable rate. This gives you more control over the care you provide and ensures quality suction. Higher-quality machines guarantee effective and consistent suction.


How Portable Suction Units Get Power 

Most portable suction units draw power from a large rechargeable battery. You can charge the machine directly or remove the battery and charge it separately. This latter option makes it possible to purchase multiple batteries so you always have one that is fully charged and one that is charging. 


Moreover, relying on battery power means you have access to suction no matter where you are, even amid natural disasters that knock out power or damage generators. 


Charging and Run Time 

The run time of the machine you choose depends on the specific unit, how charged the battery is, and the battery life when fully charged. The SSCOR DCell suction machine, the first suction machine to run on off-the-shelf D cell batteries, offers 6-9 hours of run time. Other units offer at least 45 minutes of suction power, which is sufficient to suction several patients throughout the day—even those with difficult airways and patients who require repeat suctioning. 


The length of time it takes to charge the battery or the device itself is important too,  because you cannot afford to wait a day or longer. The batteries that power SSCOR machines can charge in 6-8 hours, making it easy to charge them overnight, between shifts, or while using a backup battery. 


Tips for Getting the Most Out of a Suction Unit 

To maximize the life of your suction unit and get the most value, try these strategies: 

  • Invest in at least two sets of batteries. Charge both at night. 
  • Store all parts together so that you always have access to backup batteries and other supplies. 
  • Disassemble attachments when the unit is not in use so that you can easily add attachments when necessary. 
  • Clean the unit immediately after use. Never store it dirty. 
  • Choose a machine that works with a variety of attachments so that you can make use of the equipment you already have on hand. 


For help finding the right portable suction unit for your needs, download our free guide, The Ultimate Guide to Purchasing a Portable Emergency Suction Device



SSCOR VX-2 Portable and Onboard Suction