Online tool quickly trains doctors and nurses how to ventilate COVID-19 patients


A female health professional operating a ventilator

Online training has launched that can quickly teach nurses and doctors how to operate ventilators under the direction of an intensive care consultant.

Global efforts are underway to provide the ventilators that the majority of intensive care patients need as part of their treatment. Critical care specialists are being supported by clinicians from other specialties to rapidly expand intensive care and ventilator capacity in hospitals across the NHS.

The new online tool, developed by Imperial College London, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and Fundamental VR, allows these redeployed clinicians to gain the key knowledge they need for ventilating patients in just 30 minutes. The training consists of a short how-to video that teaches the essentials of operating ventilators.

Clinicians can use the tool on their smartphone at home or in real-time as they care for patients, enabling them to begin running ventilators immediately under the supervision of an intensive care consultant. It can be accessed for free by any clinician across the world, regardless of health system or specialism.

Professor Ara Darzi, co-director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London, which is leading the project at Imperial, said: “It takes years to specialise a clinician in intensive care; while this new training course is not designed to replace this expertise, it will enable health systems across the world to act now and provide the care that their patients desperately need.

"With greater capacity, we can help more people survive this illness, and prevent health systems from becoming overwhelmed during this crisis.”

“With greater capacity, we can help more people survive this illness, and prevent health systems from becoming overwhelmed during this crisis.” Professor Ara Darzi Director of Institute of Global Health Innovation

Following initial launch across Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, the training has been rolled out both nationally and internationally, to support the global need to increase critical capacity in response to increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients.

Working with Community Jameel to translate the tool, the training is now available in 6 languages: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and Hindi. This means that healthcare workers in regions that are experiencing rising numbers of COVID-19 cases, such as Latin America and India, can access the training at a time when greater capacity is vital. 

“Our academic partners are helping us greatly with this online tool, which adds to a range of training we’ve had to put in place very quickly," said Professor Julian Redhead, medical director at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. “The response to COVID-19 will really benefit from the continued collaboration of researchers, clinicians and industry to get innovations into practice and achieving patient benefit.”

Richard Vincent, CEO and Co-Founder of Fundamental VR, said: "When COVID-19 struck we were delighted to work with the team at Imperial College London on the rapid development of this important Ventilator Trainer and are pleased to see it roll out to help build confidence and competence with Healthcare professionals at this challenging time. We are in awe of the NHS teams and all that they do and we are honoured to have played a small part in the solution."

Dr Richard Leonard, Consultant Intensivist and Dr Rachel Bartlett, Consultant Anaesthetist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “This unprecedented crisis demands unprecedented solidarity and cooperation throughout society.

“In Intensive Care we are hugely grateful for the selfless support, energy and dedication shown by so many staff from different specialties who have come to work with us. We hope that this training will support clinicians from multiple specialties to join the inspiring response to this worldwide pandemic. Everyone can make a difference and we hope this will give them the confidence to make a start.”

Fady Jameel, President, International – Community Jameel, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic poses a threat to everyone, but the risk is most acute in vulnerable communities not yet past the peak and where healthcare systems do not have the infrastructure to cope with the demands of a pandemic. The global health challenge is huge but we hope making this online ventilator training tool available in more languages can play a small part in helping healthcare workers around the world combat the virus.”

See the press release of this article


Justine Alford

Justine Alford
Institute of Global Health Innovation

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