We all know the saying “You get what you pay for.” In a world where we are bombarded by inexpensive, substandard imports, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important. But when it comes to EMS equipment, there is no substitute for effective, high-quality gear, and one of the most important tools of the trade is a well-made portable suction unit.
Let’s examine the three primary features you want in a high-quality suction unit.
What good is a suction unit if it doesn’t work when you need it? There are a few reasons why suction units fail:
- Weak internal components. Your unit must be able to stand up to the rigors of emergency scenes.
- Poor battery life. What good are batteries if they don’t hold a charge?
- Poor design. Clear, easy controls are a necessity against the challenging environments of EMS calls.
A portable suction unit must be effective and must be able to stand up to blood, vomit, and tissue that can impede your patient’s airway. So, choose a unit that not only has the power to accomplish the task, but that also accommodates an array of catheters to meet the various challenges. You won’t get very far using a one-size-fits-all catheter, especially when confronted with a clogged airway.
Variability is also crucial. You want a unit that will enable you to regulate the amount of suction so that you don’t put your elderly or pediatric patients at risk. Their smaller, vulnerable airways require a delicate touch and a suction unit that features variable vacuum pressure.
A portable suction unit must be portable. It can’t be a burden to carry, or it simply won’t be carried! Today’s advanced technology means electronics are smaller, lighter, and more complex, so choose a unit that integrates these high-tech components.
If you wish to include your suction unit in another bag—say an airway or trauma bag—then it must be small and lightweight. If the unit will stand alone and be part of the ALS assemblage, it must be easy to carry, with spacious grips and a rugged outer shell.
Also, consider any special conditions your personnel may face, such as weather extremes or rugged terrain. You want a suction unit that is durable enough to handle the severities of the EMS environment.
So, when it’s time to choose a portable suction unit, choose wisely, for there is no substitute for quality.