The control panel of the Emerson 3PV ventilator shows it's
Maytag roots. Does that black knob control the rinse cycle or tidal volume?
The idea for a cost effective ventilator came to light when he heard one of the leading trauma experts of the day, R. Adams Cowley, complaining about the high cost and availability of Engstrom ventilators which were the standard of the day. Dr. Cowley received a $100,000 dollar grant to research shock following trauma and had to spend most of it on expensive Engstrom ventilators. A cost effective ventilator would free up grant money for other vital research.
After some tinkering in his Cambridge, Massachusetts machine shop, the ever enterprising Emerson cobbled together a ventilator created from a hodge podge of ordinary and readily available household and automotive parts. His unique creation was the first ventilator marketed with a humidifier thanks to the hot plate and a water vessel.
Modern ventilators have filters to prevent contamination, but Emerson's 3PV went a step further. He incorporated copper mesh in the return tubing. Copper has antimicrobial properties and actually kills bacteria and viruses by degrading the cell membrane or protein coat of the virus.
One thing missing from Emerson's pioneering ventilator was an electronic monitoring screen made by extracting toxic elements from the earth via a process that is probably slowly killing us. Old school practitioners were satisfied with watching the rise and fall of the chest and auscultating breath sounds to verify ventilatory function.
Simple devices like Emerson ventilators have an inherent beauty. One way or another we could all wind up flat on our backs with a ventilator chugging away in the background. While we are thinking, "Is this all there is?" an image of the ventilator blowing air into our wounded meatsacks appears in our peripheral vision. I know my emotional bandwidth will feel like it's been hit by a grenade if I see a computerized microprocessor controlled gizmo keeping me alive. Find one of those old Emerson's in the basement somewhere and I'll be smiling even with that endotracheal tube jammed down my old, foolish craw.