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Category: Airway

Topic: Artificial Ventilation

Level: EMR

5 minute read

Pocket Masks

Pocket masks are most traditionally used during single rescuer CPR, where the use of bag-valve-masks may be unwieldy. While these devices are less commonly used in the EMS setting due to the almost universal partner system, there are some situations where you may encounter one.

The most portable of the mechanical ventilation device which provides protection to the rescuer from direct mouth-to-mouth contact is the pocket mask. This section will review the use of and limitations of the pocket mask.


Use of a Pocket Mask

To provide assisted ventilation through a pocket mask, take a position on either side of a supine patient.

  1. Place the mask over the nose and mouth of the patient, verifying a tight seal (E-C technique if at the head).
  2. Ensure the "barrier device tip" is in place. This is a one-way valve that prevents backflow.
  3. Manually open the airway using either a jaw thrust or a combination of head tilt and chin lift.
  4. Deliver a breath over approximately one second, watching for equal chest rise and fall.

Pocket mask ventilation has the disadvantage of limiting the time available for other interventions and being strenuous on the rescuer, often quickly causing fatigue.

The air provided by the pocket mask will have a slightly reduced oxygen percentage (approximately 16% vs. the 21% in ambient air) since it has already passed through the rescuer's lungs. However, many pocket masks are equipped with oxygen ports. When connected to supplemental oxygen, these ports can significantly increase the oxygen delivered to the patient. Pocket masks are commonly used in first-aid situations within the community by individuals such as lifeguards, teachers, and home health aides.

Normal expired air is composed of approximately 16% oxygen. Connecting the pocket mask to supplemental oxygen—flow rate set at approximately 6-8 Lpm—can increase the oxygen delivery to upwards of 50%-60%.