A Staffordshire University Professor’s leadership in the development of a life-saving ventilator has been recognised by the Lord Mayor of London.
Professor of Clinical Biomechanics Nachi Chockalingam (pictured left), has been presented with a Lord Mayor’s COVID-19 Livery Award for his work on the innovative Field Ventilator project.
The low-cost ventilator was developed by an international team of academic and industrial engineers, manufacturers and clinicians to treat coronavirus patients in poor and remote parts of the world. This team includes several members of the Worshipful Company of Engineers supported by their employers.
Professor Chockalingam said: “It is a privilege to receive this award on behalf of all my colleagues who have helped with this project. It was a humbling experience to be among people who have made such a positive impact throughout the pandemic – be it through providing food for those most in need or helping to source vital PPE. It felt really good to be there.”
Commodore Barry Brooks, Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Engineers, commented: “We are extremely proud of our Engineer Liverymen who stepped up to help the fight against COVID-19. The project has now evolved, and this device can help a range of other respiratory diseases and patients in need of respiratory support. The Field Ventilator project has the poorest communities in the world in mind and Professor Chockalingam played a pivotal role in rapidly taking the product from idea to testing. This award recognises his skills, leadership and commitment to help others when it was needed most.”
The Lord Mayor’s Awards recognised the contribution made by various Livery Company members in 2020 during the pandemic, covering a broad range of altruistic outreach activities in support of the NHS and other communities.
The Field Ventilator uses a windscreen wiper motor, cam and lever system and a standard Bag-Valve-Mask (BVM) (also known as Ambu Bag) to ventilate the patient. The unit is designed to run in remote parts of the world on a vehicle battery, which can be recharged via solar panels, wind turbines or mains power.
It is hoped that the device will be used beyond COVID-19 to treat people in remote rural settings where access to specialist equipment and medical staff is poor and a new paper outlines plans to help reduce global mortality rates.
Professor Chockalingam explained: “Ventilator capacity in low and middle-income countries is extremely limited where it exists at all. A significant majority of cases can be managed with intervention involving a short course of mechanical ventilation, therefore widespread and timely access to ventilators could help to improve patient outcomes in these settings.”
Low and middle-income countries are also disproportionately affected by road traffic accidents, women are more likely to die during childbirth, and younger patients are more likely to be affected by critical illness.
Professor Chockalingam added: “There is a clear and urgent need for simple, low cost, portable ventilators like The Field Ventilator – the availability of which would have a profound effect on healthcare and the health economy.”