So anyone who deals with airway, knows what a video laryngoscope (hereafter VL) is. The major player in this field is the Glidescope, which has been around for quite some time.
In this photo, you see the screen, a black probe-like device, and a clear plastic curved blade. The black probe has a video camera at the end of it, and it is inserted into the clear plastic blade. You then fire up the video screen, insert the probe/blade combo in the mouth, and instead if a fairly small, difficult to see set of vocal cords, you get the following:
Problem is, despite the overall fantastic-ness of these airway tools (it doubles the rate of first pass, successful intubation in emergency situations, from about 30%-ish to over 70%, and in controlled situations, first pass success approaches 95%) the stupid things are very, very spendy. Like, $2000 a pop, with the covers around $50 each. And really, folks, it’s a freaking bit of plastic. No need for that kind of coin.
Enter rfsdoc, proprietor of the PHARM: PreHospital and Retrieval Medicine blog, based out of Australia. A great site, I commend it to your review. Specific to this discussion, he is looking for a VL that costs less than $100.
He does find one, but that’s not the point of his blog post linked above. He makes one.
He uses the following equipment, pasted here from his site:
3. Windows or Apple OS laptop/tablet with USB port, use Vividtrac imaging software to display USB camera image”
Total cost, not including the laptop, $43.
Check out his finished product:
When you read his post you will see verification that it works, and that it is waterproof.
But the fun’s not over!
Again, in his words:
“But I quickly realised once again, did you really need a Macintosh blade? Would a spoon bent into the curve of a Mac blade be sufficient? YES IT WOULD!”
Top VL is spoon-based. Bottom is the Mac blade from previous, for comparison.
Any waterproof flexible video camera, similar to that linked above (say, don’t they make video cameras to look down gun barrels?). Any bendable metal with moderate rigidity. Any laptop (or cell phone, turns out) with free software, downloadable from the internet. And bam, you’ve got a $2000, incredibly useful bit of kit that would make a foundation for your grid down ICU/ER.
Yes, I know, it needs electricity. And direct laryngoscopes don’t. But off-grid electricity can be had, and part of the point of this blog is to explore what we might be able to do now, that would make a grid down scenario more survivable than Civil War era medicine.