Hingson Field Unit
WLM ID: ailf | Catalog Record
In the early 1950s, Dr. Robert A. Hingson (1913-1996) became chairman of the Anesthesiology Department at Case Western Reserve University. Shortly thereafter he developed this field unit with engineers Frank Ziherl and Arthur Kish. Their objective was to create a safe, portable and simple device that could be used for resuscitation and administration of anesthetic gas mixtures with oxygen. They developed a nonexplosive gas mixture of 40% cyclopropane (the anesthetic), 30% helium and 30% oxygen, and packaged six liters of it into two miniature gas cylinders, each less than 3 inches long. The small gas cylinders and carbon dioxide (CO2) absorber made the device light and easy to carry.
The device was recommended for procedures of short duration, including dental and outpatient procedures. The unit could also be used as a resuscitator by fitting it with cylinders of oxygen alone. The device was known by many different names, including the Cyclopropane-Helium-Oxygen Emergency Field Anesthesia Unit, Western Reserve Portable Anesthesia Machine, and the Western Reserve Miniature Anesthesia Machine and Oxygen Resuscitator.
Dr. Hingson might be best known for introducing caudal and epidural anesthesia into the practice of obstetrical anesthesia. He was also a trail-blazing humanitarian, and founded the Brothers' Brother Foundation. The finding aid to the Robert A. Hingson Collection can be accessed from the Archives section of the Wood Library-Museum website, under Individual Collections.