iFixit's Kyle Wiens posted an urgent request to help them Crowdsource Repair Information for Hospital Equipment (18 March 2020).
Ventilators are machines that mechanically breathe for patients who are too weak to breathe for themselves. With COVID-19, many patients develop acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). The WHO clinical management guidance recommends oxygen, and when that doesn’t work, mechanical ventilation.
We are learning from China and Italy that these crucial ventilators are being heavily utilized—many ventilators are running non-stop. There’s even precedent for hospitals short on ventilators using hose splitters to share a machine between patients, as in the 2017 Vegas shooting. Due to heavy use and accelerated wear and tear, these lifesaving machines are breaking down.
Biomedical technicians (biomeds for short) are the repair experts at hospitals, and in many regions they are stretched thin. There are a wide variety of machines made by a number of different manufacturers at hospitals around the world, and there is no single resource for how to repair all of them. We don’t know how many machines will fail once hospitals are truly taxed. We don’t know which parts of those machines are most at risk.