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Date last updated: Tuesday, July 10, 2007 02:23 AM Pacific
FireRescue Magazine
September 2005

Vol. 23 Issue 9

Hands On: Cribbing the Airway

Innovative device aids with airway management

The small, bright light in the illuminated version of the Intubate Mate gives you hands-free lighting of the patient's retropharynx.

Wedge-like sections on each side of the device fit between the upper and lower molars like extrication cribbing.
Paramedic Eddie Lane of American Medical Response (formerly Mercy Ambulance), Las Vegas, has developed an innovative, inexpensive, single-use, plastic oral insert for use in airway management of unconscious patients. It was originally designed to protect the patient's upper incisors during intubation, but its other benefits may be just as important.

The Intubate Mate slips into the unconscious patient's mouth and is placed on their upper teeth or gums like a football player's mouthpiece. The bottom of the device features extended wedge-like sections on each side that fit between the upper and lower molars and act like extrication cribbing to keep the mouth open throughout care.

During intubation, the Intubate Mate shields the teeth by means of a rigid lip. Following ET tube placement, it remains in position and physically prevents the patient from biting the tube (or your thumb).

In addition to its usefulness during intubation, the Intubate Mate assists in keeping your patient's airway open for suctioning, bag-valve mask ventilation, insertion of a CombiTube and other airway devices. It's also great for use on a patient who still has a gag reflex and can't tolerate the use of an oropharyngeal airway.

As an added bonus, Lane designed and incorporated a hollow channel on the left wedge that accommodates a small, bright light (available as an option) that provides ambient lighting to illuminate the retropharynx. As you insert the battery-powered light into the channel, the activation button is depressed and the light automatically turns on. This gives you hands-free illumination of the patient's retropharynx to help you suction and manage the patient's airway.

According to Lane, the non-illuminated version will cost $4, and the illuminated version will cost $6. He's currently working on additional sizes.

Call Lane at 702/302-1928 or visit

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