On Wednesday, a collection of medical experts in the field gathered in Washington at a meeting sponsored by Department of Health and Human Services assistant secretary Brett Giroir, along with other federal agencies charged with handling Covid-19 response efforts. Their task was to design a last-ditch protocol to split ventilators, so doctors aren’t left to make the agonizing choice of who lives or dies.
“When you realize that you’re running low on your last few vents, you’ll have to start making this decision,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Dr. Lorenzo Paladino, an associate professor at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University in Brooklyn. In 2008, Dr. Paladino successfully split one ventilator among four sheep for 12 hours.
He compared the group’s efforts, trying to get a message to doctors who have never used ventilators in this manner before, to the safety briefing airline passengers get before a water landing. “Flight attendants can’t communicate how to put on a life jacket after impact. We need to prep for the worst case before the chaos and panic actually hits.”