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Portage College Ready to Loan Ventilators to Local Health Unit

Image: Instructor, Shelley Franchuk with three ventilators from the Paramedicine Programs

Portage College is ready to loan three ventilator units to Alberta Health Services (AHS) should they be needed in the battle against COVID-19.

Shelley Franchuk, an instructor with the Paramedicine Programs in Portage College, was approached last week by Chief of Staff, Dr. Richard Birkill, asking if it was possible to borrow the College’s ventilators. The two have been collaborating since then to make it happen.

“We have to assist as much as we can,” said Franchuk. “We’re happy we have the capability to provide the ventilators.”

Mechanical ventilators are specialized pieces of equipment that assist patients with breathing and require training to be used. ACP students in the Paramedic Program are given instruction in preparing and providing mechanical ventilation. At this time, since students cannot be on site for face-to-face lab simulations, the ventilators are not being utilized. The Paramedicine department is looking at other means for students to complete their lab simulations at a distance.

Franchuk took the ventilators to Edmonton on Wednesday to be calibrated and tested to ensure the units are in top working condition if they are required for use by AHS.

Franchuk emphasized that it’s important for everyone to listen to advice from the government and AHS to help slow the spread of COVID-19 by staying home, social distancing, and washing hands.

“Ventilators are responsible for keeping people breathing,” she said. “We’re happy to loan the ventilators but I’m hoping nobody needs to use them.”