Review of the Pocket BVM by Kelly Grayson
About Kelly Grayson: Kelly Grayson, NRP, CCEMT-P, is a critical care paramedic in Louisiana. He has spent the past 24 years as a field paramedic, critical care transport paramedic, field supervisor and educator. He is president of the Louisiana Society of EMS Educators and a board member of the LA Association of Nationally Registered EMTs.
We were asked by the nice folks at Micro BVM to evaluate their product.
The Micro BVM is a full-functional adult BVM with mask, oxygen tubing and reservoir, fully compatible with most aftermarket PEEP valves. The manufacturer touts it as being 75% smaller when stored than a standard BVM.
It is indeed packaged in a rugged, compact case, making it a viable solution for tactical and wilderness response bags, bike medic bags, or anywhere else space is a premium.
One simply unscrews the case and expands the bag and mask packaged therein. It’s easy-peasy to get out, but if you’re going to use it for EMT training, as I did, you’ll have a devil of a time getting it back in the case. We got four of them to outfit our student teams’ response bags for IOOHS scenarios, and the first time we used them, I wound up offering extra points to any student who could get the suckers back in their cases.
I didn’t have to pay up.
Still, ease in re-packaging is a minor quibble, and not really relevant for something that is supposed to be a single-use, disposable item. We put the Micro BVM in the hands of our faculty, twelve brand-new EMT students, and twenty-four experienced EMT’s and paramedics in a refresher class. We distributed a questionnaire asking participants to rate the Micro BVM on three parameters – ergonomics, mask seal, and tidal volume – using the ubiquitous Ambu S.P.U.R. as a control. A synopsis of the results were:
Ergonomics: A. It fits the hand well, and was particularly easy to use for providers with small hands.
Mask Seal: B. Raw, inexperienced EMT students liked the mask design of the Micro BVM compared to the conventional rigid mask with inflatable cushion of the Ambu S.P.U.R. The vast majority of them said that maintaining a mask seal with the Micro BVM was more difficult, although all of them were able to obtain a seal with a few minutes of practice.
Faculty and experienced EMS providers, however, had no problems getting a mask seal immediately, which leads me to believe that our students’ dissatisfaction with the Micro BVM mask was likely due more to inexperience and flaws in technique than design. They simply found the S.P.U.R. mask more forgiving.
Tidal Volume: A. Nobody who evaluated the Micro BVM had any problems getting adequate tidal volumes on a recording CPR manikin or a full-body ALS manikin, however, all of them had been practicing ventilating an adult manikin with a pediatric bag fitted with a PEEP valve and adult mask.
One unofficial parameter – price point – put the Micro BVM well behind its competitors. At roughly $46 per unit, it’s three times the price of an Ambu S.P.U.R. This is not a BVM you’re going to stock ambulance shelves with. However, I strongly suspect Micro BVM’s target market is providers who will use a BVM infrequently and for whom storage space is a premium, and are willing to pay more for it.
It will fit that market niche rather well.
If you’re in the market for a compact, fully functional and ruggedly packaged BVM, and you’re not going to be using one several times a week, the Micro BVM is a good choice.