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Emergency Oxygen – It’s So Simple

Written by Richard Imbruce, PhD, President, Rapid Oxygen Company

The COVID-19 crisis taught us to appreciate the term “be prepared” because we weren’t.  The right medical equipment and supplies in the right hands will help us be better prepared and smarter about the future.  

One of the main symptoms of COVID-19 is labored breathing.  As such, we need to recognize and act on the importance of immediately available emergency oxygen to improve access to first oxygen and simultaneously ease the overburdened healthcare system, specifically emergency medical services (EMS).  Any airway or cardiac emergency requires oxygen for shortness of breath which can be due to asthma, an allergic reaction, or heart attack.  In addition, according to the US Dept. of HHS, individuals who are experiencing opioid overdose should receive oxygen before, during, and after administration of Naloxone.

The national response time for EMS is over eight minutes and often longer in rural areas.  Deterioration of brain function occurs within one or two minutes without oxygen.  There is every reason to provide oxygen in the first critical minutes as there is a 10% improvement in survival for each minute improvement in response time. 

At a minimum, emergency oxygen should be required by law just as automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are required in schools and public spaces.  In Connecticut, we are working with Senator Leone to hopefully propose such legislation and make oxygen availability a reality in the State of Connecticut.  We are also expecting to initiate a similar legislative effort in New York and expand nationally from there.  Lobbying efforts continue to educate the legislatures on the importance of first aid oxygen and we request the public’s help to support this obvious need for emergency oxygen in order to improve outcomes for airway and cardiac emergencies.

Fire extinguishers are in our homes, offices, and public buildings along with AEDs in schools, airports, and other areas where people gather.  Emergency oxygen, however, the essential element in the air we breathe, is missing.  The reason emergency oxygen is not available alongside fire extinguishers or AEDs is because oxygen cylinders are explosive and require a trained technician to operate, as well as a prescription – but technology brings us a solution that resolves these issues with safe oxygen that can be readily available in any location, used by anyone, anywhere.

As a physiologist turned medical device executive, my goal was to develop and make available a safe, reliable emergency oxygen system for public use, to be used by anyone, anywhere, to provide emergency oxygen before EMS arrive.  In 2016, Dr. Kevin Ward, Professor of Emergency Medicine at University of Michigan, and I patented and developed a portable, safe, non-explosive, emergency oxygen breathing solution called the R15 and launched the Rapid Oxygen Company (rapidoxygen.com) to manufacture and market this revolutionary device.  

The American Heart Association worked diligently over the last 20 years to create public awareness and education on the importance of AEDs.  Airports and many public places locate an AED within one minute’s reach to improve emergency response times for the average citizen’s use.  Now, the R15 portable oxygen generator can be available in any public space, and it’s so easy to use, that even a child can administer the oxygen.

The answer is simple – require oxygen be made available to match the legal requirements for AEDs at a minimum.  Breathing emergencies are 20 times more likely to occur than cardiac arrest, for which AEDs are utilized.  Breathing emergencies are frequent occurrences that will now only be more frequent as we unfortunately are witnessing.  Let’s be smart and even more importantly, prepared.

To learn more about Rapid Oxygen Company, visit https://rapidoxygen.com/

Richard Imbruce, PhD
President, Rapid Oxygen Company


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