T'heniel Chetty

Designing Paramedic Airway Management Equipment

Master of Design Design for Health Human Centred Design Industrial Design Health and wellbeing

Human Centred Designed Paramedic Airway Equipment

My Master's research aimed to identify issues Paramedics faced when using Airway Management Equipment during patient resuscitations. Working with Paramedics and Paramedicine students, I designed products that are beneficial to Paramedics during stressful and cognitively demanding patient resuscitations.

Paramedics respond to chaotic, unpredictable, and time critical emergencies. Cardiac Arrest is one of the most physically and cognitively demanding emergencies that paramedics attend. Airway Management is  an important procedure during patient resuscitation.  Through my Master's research I discovered multiple areas for a design intervention to aid paramedics during the airway management process.

One area was securing the breathing tube that helps a patient receive oxygen. The current solution makes it easy to kink or obstruct the tube as it has a screw mechanism that is tightened to secure the tube. This could compromise air flow to the patient. Another issue is having to thread a velcro strap through a thin slot. In an emergency, time could be wasted trying to thread it through properly.  I redesigned the tube holder to make it easier and faster to secure the tube. With my design, the strap is used to secure the tube which eliminates the possibility of the tube being kinked.

Another area was the storage of the equipment. Currently there are multiple pouches that store the airway management equipment, with equipment scattered.  I re-designed the storage to make it easier, and faster to open. It includes both the basic  and advanced airway equipment which allows paramedics to have backup equipment available. I also designed an Equipment Preparation Area which stores the airway management accessories. It has a silhouette of  equipment which acts as  a cognitive aid to help paramedics prepare the equipment. It also helps a paramedic communicate what needs to be prepared when they swap tasks with another paramedic.

An important part of the design research process was observing simulated cardiac arrests. This allowed me to understand how the airway management equipment is used and it highlighted user behavior when using the equipment. During the design process these insights into how the equipment is used informed the design. It also created a specification that the design needed to be fast and easy to use.

My designs highlight the significance of providing paramedics with equipment that is better tailored to the environment they are working in which can help them do their job. With the airway storage opening the bag is faster which means better access to the equipment they need. The tube holder also makes it easier and faster to secure the tube. It also eliminates an additional step to securing the tube.