What is PAPR device - new Covid-19 Mask
What is PAPR device - new Covid-19 Mask

Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) - more perfect mask

According to two professors from Princeton University, Shivaji L. Sondhi and Howard A. Stone, and physicist Richard L. Garwin, the powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) devices offer the most effective protection against Covid-19 aerosols, especially in a poorly ventilated room where other measures like social distancing are futile.

After several months of waiting, the Pettis County Ambulance District (PCAD) staff has received 17 Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) devices to better communicate with patients during patient care and transport and 12 LUCAS systems to use when performing CPR.

A PAPR is personal protective equipment for health care workers that has a hood with a clear shield with airflow and filtration features. It allows people who wear them to breathe more naturally while feeling a constant airflow in the headtop.

PCAD EMS Chief Eric Dirck said he and his team are training staff on the proper use and decontamination of the devices, and he anticipates primarily using them for inter-facility transfers due to extended time with patients.

“One of the major advantages of the PAPR is the ability to communicate more effectively and personally during a long trip to another hospital,” he said. “Being able to see a provider’s face can be especially helpful, as facial expressions play a major role in how we communicate.”

Dirck said each of the district’s eight daily staffed ambulances has two devices on board for a total of 16 active devices. There also is one backup PAPR available. The cost for each device was $1,400 for a total of about $24,000.

Another important piece of equipment to PCAD is 12 LUCAS mechanical chest compression units to help with performing CPR. The PCAD Board of Directors approved the purchase of the units at its October meeting at a total cost of $197,000, which includes the devices, cases, chargers and extra batteries.

Use of a LUCAS system has been shown to improve the quality and consistency of chest compressions, increase oxygen levels, as well as provide sustained life-saving circulation during prolonged resuscitation attempts, Dirck shared.

What is PAPR device - new Covid-19 Mask
Lacey Short, Pettis County Ambulance District paramedic and infection control officer, wears one of the department’s new Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPR). The device is a hood with a clear shield with airflow and filtration and allows patients to see the faces of the people helping them, making communication faster and easier.

“We have recently incorporated the LUCAS unit in our protocols,” Dirck said. “It helps minimize unnecessary close contact, which is critical when dealing with the highly contagious COVID-19 virus or other highly infectious diseases. These devices vastly improve consistency of CPR during all out-of-hospital cardiac arrests.”

The PCAD Board also recently approved purchasing UV lights for ambulances, equipment and air scrubbers for stations and ambulances and upgrading existing aging equipment like heart monitors and portable ventilators.

Dirck said the district also is in the process of implementing new education software that will provide a more dynamic way of communicating and training crews. New processes include online scheduling, virtual training, video hosting and online testing and tracking for continuing education requirements.

“We have vastly improved our crew’s safety and quality of care,” he said. “Pandemic or no pandemic, staying current with equipment, training and safety practices are all critical to our mission of delivering high-performance pre-hospital emergency services.”

What is PAPR devic and how it work

The PAPR device was designed and created by William Burgess between 1967 and 1968. Burgess submitted a proposal to the American Iron and Steel Institute to design powered air-purifying respirators to be used in coke ovens at steel plants.

This was because many people working in coke ovens were developing lung cancer at 10 times the normal rate due to clouds of contaminated coal. Burgess created a PAPR with filters and small fans that were powered by motors with batteries, which were connected to a mask. This device is believed to have worked for at least eight hours.

Today’s PAPR uses a fan to push air through a HEPA filter (that filters our particulate matter) into an N95 mask. A tube connects the filter, which includes the fan, to the mask.

The battery-run device comes with a USB cord and can be recharged.

According to the researchers, the PAPR filters air much better than any other mask and provides a supply of fresh air. They added that this respirator works better than just N95 masks and more than 98 per cent aerosols are filtered out by it.

Sondhi highlighted that in a PAPR, the air is forced inside as higher pressure is created through the filter. As a result, the air one breathes through the N95 mask comes through the filter, he explained. Furthermore, there are different levels for the fan which can be used to speed up the rate at which the air is filtered through the HEPA filter.

The professor noted that health authorities can raise awareness about these devices by issuing guidance after testing them directly.

“If, say, the Indian government was to invite tenders for 10 million units at a sensible price, that would give potential manufacturers in India and elsewhere an incentive to supply them. The government could recoup the cost by selling them. Even better, once word gets around, private distributors will pick up the units directly from the firms making them and the government will not need to get involved at all,” Sondhi told ThePrint.

One such PAPR is the Broad Airpro Mask that is available on Amazon, which costs $60-$67 (approximately Rs 4,300-Rs 4,500).

The Broad Airpro Mask has a USB rechargeable battery that powers a respirator with a 10-hour run time and the HEPA filter can be used for a total of 500 hours. Other brands with similar features include 3M and Bilang.

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