Artificial respiration.

[between 1940 and 1949]
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Artificial respiration. Public Domain Mark. Source: Wellcome Collection.

About this work


This film demonstrates the many mechanical methods available for artificial respiration with paralysis available to patients in the 1940s . 6 segments.


[Place of publication not identified], s.n.], [between 1940 and 1949]

Physical description

1 encoded moving image (21:33 mins) : silent; black and white



Copyright note

Copyright previously held by Nuffield

Terms of use

Public Domain Mark

Creator/production credits

There are no opening or closing credits.


Conservation and access copies made from the film collection comprising of 55 items donated by Nuffield Department of Anaesthetics, Oxford, to the Wellcome Trust in 2008. In 1937, Lord Nuffield established a clinical chair of anaesthesia in Oxford amidst some controversy that anaesthesia was even an academic discipline. The collection is a mixture of clinical and educational films made or held by the department to supplement their teaching dating from the late 1930s onwards.


Segment 1 Opening intertitle; 'Various types of apparatus are available for artificially ventilating the lungs in cases of respiratory failure from any cause. This film illustrates the principles involved.' There are several types of respirator, and type 'A' where the patient is totally enclosed is shown. The mechanism of a "drinker" respirator or "iron lung" is shown with a patient in a working iron lung. A man demonstrates the rubber collar, which he puts around his neck. The patient watches by means of a mirror so that she can observe the demonstration. Her bedding is adjusted and a bed pan removed by a side port. Time start: 00:00:00:00 Time end: 00:03:27:00 Length: 00:03:27:00
Segment 2 Next, a Both respirator is shown (a modification of the drinker model above). This also has side portholes for access to the patient. Failures in the machinery are demonstrated as well as how to intervene manually when, for example, the electricity supply is compromised (the operator trips over the trailing wire!) Time start: 00:03:27:00 Time end: 00:06:13:16 Length: 00:02:46:16
Segment 3 Type 'B' articifical respirators are now shown. The patient is only partially enclosed. The next model is a Paul-Bragg pulsator; the chest is rhythmically subjected to positive pressure; the patient is not enclosed, instead he lies in an upright position. There are clear shots of the patient s chest rising and falling as well as the operation of the machine. Next a Burstall respirator is shown; the chest is rhythmically subjected to negative pressure. An unconscious and possibly paralysed youth is shown being fitted with what looks like a cross between medieval armour and something from Flash Gordon. Operation is by means of a foot pump. Time start: 00:06:13:16 Time end: 00:11:31:04 Length: 00:05:16:13
Segment 4 Next a Biomotor respirator is shown; the abdomen is subjected alternatively to negative and positive pressure. The patient has what looks like a space helmet placed on his abdomen to force respiration. The operation of the equipment is briefly shown by means of a line animation. The equipment is shown in detail. Time start: 00:11:31:04 Time end: 00:14:44:07 Length: 00:03:13:03
Segment 5 Next methods depending on the varying posture of the patient are shown; 1. The rocker (a stretcher with a central pivot). A patient (bizarrely) laying face down on the floor is picked up and placed in the contraption. 2. The barrel. An unconscious patient is placed on a barrel in order to demonstrate this method. 3. The sling. Time start: 00:14:44:07 Time end: 00:18:27:03 Length: 00:03:42:21
Segment 6 Finally method 'D' dependant on the inflation of the lungs with oxygen under pressure are shown. 1. The McKesson respirator. A portable case on castors is shown holding canisters of oxygen. The patient laying on the floor is readily masked. 2. Oxford respirator shown. Oxford bellows are attached to a tube and they are inflated. A man demonstrates the use of the mask, then it is shown being used on a patient. Time start: 00:18:27:03 Time end: 00:21:33:03 Length: 00:03:06:00


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