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November 15, 2005

BehindTheMedspeak: LifeStat Emergency Pocket Airway


How is it that I just learned yesterday about this important invention (above), potentially life–saving in an airway emergency?

And that I happened on it only when it was mentioned as being included in the new exhibition "SAFE: Design Takes On Risk," currently at New York's Museum of Modern Art?

I'm getting one yesterday.

Designed in 1970 (!) by Ronald J. French, an American otolaryngologist, it took over a quarter–century until Prestige Products began manufacturing it in 1996.

And I've still yet to see an ad for it or any other sign that this remarkable device exists.

It's a cricothyroidotomy kit that can be conveniently carried on a key ring.

Simple, elegant and powerful in its ability to save a life.

As a rule, emergency cricothyroidotomies don't work very well for two reasons:

1) They're not performed until the individual's already had a cardiac arrest.

2) The design and function of existing emergency airway kits leave much to be desired.

Dr. French's device won't help with the first problem but it darn sure might with the second.

Hope I never get a chance to use mine — if I do, you'll read about it here.



Bet you it gets confiscated by airport security next time I fly.

Sure would be a shame and a terrible irony if someone on that flight obstructed, eh?

November 15, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink


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What NONSENSE! First of all, a tracheotomy is NOT the preferred field procedure in the VERY rare cases something of the sort is called for. The proper technique is called a cricothyroid puncture.

Second, the device shown looks to have the diameter of a cocktail straw. Try breathing through a cocktail straw, or the barrel of a ball point pen. Doesn't work very well.

I spent 10 years working as a Paramedic, handling some 2,000 cases a year. In all that time I saw maybe four cases where it _might_ have been appropriate.

Cutting someones throat to save their life is not for the untrained.

Posted by: Ben2K | Mar 25, 2009 9:25:30 PM

The Lifestat emergency airway device is available at:
under the category emergency products.
We have worked with Dr. French and sold this product for 15 years. Primary advertisements are in Emergency Medicine avenues. Do not recommend taking it in carry-on luggage.

Posted by: AM | Apr 10, 2006 1:29:38 PM

would get them for me and all my med school classmates... but 135$? Maybe it'll have to wait until we're actually docs. Too bad.

Posted by: andy | Nov 15, 2005 4:43:03 PM

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