Oxygen is vital to maintain body function. Key organs of the body which require oxygen are the brain and the heart. The brain will sustain significant hypoxic injury if there is more than 3 minutes without a supply of oxygen.

As such trauma to the body which interrupts the supply of oxygen to vital organs can have devastating consequences.

Thus oxygen should be considered in all trauma patients and the majority of medical emergencies


Oxygen is administered via a non rebreath mask.

To administer the oxygen the reservoir bag needs to be filled before being given to patient. To fill the bag you must connect it to the oxygen cylinder via the tubing. Turn the valve to 15 litres per minute and hold a finger over the valve of the mask as shown to fully inflate the bag.

Using a non re-breathe mask allows minimal rebreathing of expired air, and delivers approximately 85 % oxygen at a flow rate of 8 litres per minute when applied properly.

Place the mask over the patients head and support over the nasal area and mouth. If the patient is breathing adequately the mask will ‘fog’. The bag should refill between breathes. If this is not the case increase the flow rate up to a maximum of 15 litres per minute.

In certain trauma situations assisted ventilation is required using a bag valve mask device with supplemental oxygen.

Contraindications for the use of oxygen

There are few contraindications for the use of oxygen.

For patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease oxygen in high concentrations is potentially deleterious, however it is unlikely high levels of oxygen within the first hour of trauma will cause significant side effects.