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How to Use Ambu Bags

By Sue Teresa Tan ; Updated July 27, 2017

The Ambu (Air-Shields Manual Breathing Unit) Bag is a special type of Bag Valve Mask (or BVM) that is used to help a child or an adult who is either not breathing or having a hard time breathing on his own. It is a tool held and operated by the hand and is employed to provide a continuous supply of oxygen to a person's lungs in a process called “bagging”. The ambu bag should be an indispensable part of a crash cart or a first aid kit. In practice, only trained medical professionals are supposed to operate this manual resuscitator. However, in cases of extreme emergency, anyone may use it to oxygenate the patient’s lungs and save his life in the process, thus the need to familiarize oneself with how to operate it.


Try to find a way to make the patient breathe if he is not breathing. Use the Ambu Bag if he still does not breathe.

Make sure that the patient’s airways are clear of mucus before you use the apparatus.

Position the patient in such a way that the tip of his nose is facing up. You may roll a small towel under his shoulders to help him maintain this position.

Make sure that the face mask is connected to the adapter on the bag; the bag is connected to the oxygen tubing; and the tubing is connected to the regulator on the tank.

Put the mask tightly over the mouth and nose of the patient with your hand and hold the mask toward his face.

Use your thumb to squeeze the bag in a brisk manner in order to put pressure onto it. Make sure that the bag is squeezed hard enough so as to produce an elevation in the patient’s chest just like when he is breathing normally.

Squeeze the Ambu bag once every after 2-3 seconds if the patient is a child, or once every after 5-6 seconds if he is an adult. If the patient still finds it hard to breathe, keep on bagging up to the point where he starts to breathe normally, or until the medical personnel arrive.

Change the position of the mask or the patient’s head if the chest still fails to rise. After which, try to put a little bit more of pressure on the Ambu Bag.

If the baby’s chest still does not rise, consider there is an object obstructing the airway and do your best to revive the patient.


Keep the ambu bag clean so every after use, wipe it with the recommended disinfectant solution.


Keep the Ambu Bag at the patient’s bedside at all times and make sure that the mask and the bag are always assembled. If the patient’s chest still fails to rise, there is a great possibility that there is a solid object that blocks the airway, so do your best to revive the patient.

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