In February 2020, amid growing concerns of the novel coronavirus, one forward-looking French fashion designer, Marine Serre, had her models wear facemasks that matched their trendy ensembles on the catwalk at Paris’ Fashion Week. Fast forward to today. So much has changed in the last year and a half. Facemasks have become the norm to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 while the world continues to try and rebound while also preparing for new variants of the deadly virus.

For more than a century breathing masks have been a critical component in personal protective equipment (PPE) for a wide breadth of medical and industrial occupations. Now, of course, in the midst of this global pandemic, they have become a key line of defense for the general population.

It is not surprising, then, that medical technology and safety equipment manufacturers such as Dräger are seeing a significant increase in the demand for PPE. For its part, Dräger is pulling out all the stops to maintain the global supply of its products and services.


Dräger responds to COVID-19 global crisis

Continuing its long history of responding to worldwide crises, Dräger has significantly expanded its production capacities to meet the high demand for its ventilators, breathing masks and other PPE. In fact, as of September 8, 2020, Dräger has begun to increase production of its X-plore® 1750 NIOSH-approved N95 filtering facepiece in a new U.S. facility in Montgomeryville, Pennsylvania. The X-plore 1750 combines proven and reliable respiratory protection, ensuring a high level of comfort and ease of use for medical professionals and other essential workers. The design’s CoolSAFE filter material combines low breathing resistance and high filter performance. In addition, its optional CoolMAX exhalation valve releases humid and warm exhaled air to the outside.

Since the onset of COVID-19, Dräger has at peak times neary quadrupled its production of ventilators. Dräger’s ventilation devices, including its Evita® V500 and Savina® 300, are in especially high demand because of their ability to assist the sickest COVID-19 patients breathe easier.

It’s important to remember that wearing masks and PPE, such as protective coverings, is not a guaranteed safeguard against contact with bacteria, viruses or biological contaminants. Only correct dressing, undressing, disinfection and use of protective equipment protects the wearer from possible infection and spread of contamination.

As the world navigates the new normal in light of COVID-19, Dräger has remained true to its legacy – providing innovative safety and medical technology products and novel technology that respond to the critical needs of our global citizens who are trying to stay safe in a variety of environments.


The world's first respiratory device

In the early 1900s, Dräger founder Johann Heinrich Dräger witnessed a young man pulled from the Thames river and manually resuscitated. That moment inspired him to explore the idea of ventilating people mechanically. His vision was to bring people back to life with a machine right at the scene of an accident. So, in 1907, he developed the world’s first ventilator, the Pulmotor.

The technology behind the Pulmotor was incredibly simple yet effective, and remained the basis of mechanical ventilation for decades. The device provided breathing gas until a certain pressure in the lungs was reached. Then, the device switched over to exhalation.

The Pulmotor marked Dräger’s first great commercial success. Dräger’s Pulmotor would later effectively employ the technologically-advanced use of oxygen as a basic component in breathing therapy for various medical and safety applications.


Dräger’s ongoing history of PPE innovation

In 1907, Dräger further advanced its commitment to PPE and breathing device technology when it established the Dräger Oxygen Apparatus Co. in New York. And between 1909 and 1912, Dräger registered 46 German and 35 international patents on medical and respiratory devices. Within three years, the company also began mass producing respiratory protection apparatuses, manufacturing a total of 4.6 million devices.

In 1954, Otto Heinrich Dräger, Dräger’s CEO at the time, filed a patent application for a dust filter mask, invented by Gerhard K E H Stampe. The mask prevented dust and other solids from entering the wearer’s airway.

In 2010, Dräger filed a patent application covering the innovative technology embodied in its X-plore 1750  breathing mask. Unlike the popular N95 mask currently being used by many medical professionals and essential workers around the world, the patented X-plore 1750 is not affected by humidity and prevents condensation in the interior space of the mask. The mask body is equipped, in some sections, with a material that is waterproof but permeable to water vapor. Most N95 masks become more difficult to breathe in over time (four to eight hours of use), and if the user is sweating, this could reduce the effectiveness of the mask to less than four hours.

While it is often said that history repeats itself, COVID-19 is certainly unprecedented. Fortunately, Dräger is proving that it will continue to live up to its history as an innovator and manufacturer of protective breathing technology.