The scene is chaotic. You’ve responded to the community pool for a “patient not breathing” and find a young boy, no older than 10, in full cardiac arrest after being pulled from the bottom by bystanders. Good CPR is being delivered, but all eyes are on you as you quickly set up your equipment. As your partner hooks up the monitor, you whip open the portable suction unit to clear the copious amount of water erupting from the patient’s mouth. You flip on the switch and…nothing. You fiddle with the knob, but your suction unit is dead. The crowd stares in horror as you struggle to come up with Plan B.

Unfortunately, there is no replacement for effective oral suctioning. And there’s no excuse for choosing shoddy, unreliable equipment. Not when lives are at stake. So, let’s spend a moment reviewing the key features every healthcare worker should demand in a safe emergency aspirator.


Your portable suction unit must be functional. It must be designed with portability in mind, because it will be no good to you if it’s too heavy to carry or too bulky to stow. Here’s a quick list of things to look for:

  • Appropriate size – choose a unit that meets the demands of your service
  • Lightweight – you have enough to carry without your suction unit adding unnecessary pounds
  • Easy to use – clear, easy-to-read controls that can be manipulated under any conditions
  • Effective – must be strong enough to clear the most stubborn of airways
  • Range of tip sizes – pick the right one for the job


Because emergencies occur anywhere, at any time, in any season, your portable suction unit must be durable. It must be designed to withstand the punishing conditions of emergency response; it must be able to operate under the most extreme conditions, from freezing rain to the intense heat of summer. It must possess a tough outer shell, capable of withstanding rough handling from first responders, while containing state-of-the-art technology for effectiveness and ease of use.


More than anything, your portable suction unit must be reliable. It must be ready to go when you need it, which means choosing a brand that has stood the test of time, one with unquestioned quality, and a reputation for excellence. When you reach for that suction unit, you must have complete confidence that it will function as expected. This is no time to cut corners. That next critical patient might be someone you know.