Alberta E-Vent “Bertie” Project

Partially 3D-printed, automated resuscitator for short-term respiratory support

The Project

The Alberta E-Vent or “Bertie 1.0″ Project is a non-profit collaboration started Mar. 28. The team at Exergy were wondering how we could use our agile technology prototyping and 3D printing capabilities in support of the COVID-19 pandemic response. 

We approached Albert Health Services for direction, and Patty Wickson’s team helped define and guide the project.  With Patty and her team, we set our goal to produce 200 units, by early to mid-May, when it was predicted a peak in cases may occur. 

Exergy researched open source ventilator designs and were immediately drawn to the MIT E-Vent project, which was a mature project that uses Ambubags – something hospital clinicians were already using, and are familiar with. Unfortunately, the MIT production design and software programming code was not available, so we decided to build our own prototypes in parallel.

The project needed funding to begin prototyping and to purchase long lead-time parts like the motors, and medical grade pressure sensors and power supplies.  We approached the energy industry and despite the downturn, they were incredibly generous and immediately provided financial support for the first 200 units.

The project was an extremely fast-paced, agile project, with contributors working weekends, nights, and long days, and activities happening concurrently.  We met for every morning and evening.  We locked down and tested the production design at the University of Calgary’s Advanced Technical Skills Simulation Laboratory (ATSSL), purchased all the components for the first 200 units, and went into production Jun. 8 and finished Jun. 11. 

200 Berties were shipped to AHS the following week and now the E-Vent is being piloted in central Alberta to help rural COVID-19 patients.

Our Collaborators

Exergy collaborated with several companies and organizations as part of this project.  

Exergy’s X-Lab is in the Life Sciences Innovation Hub at the U of C Research Park, so we approached Innovate Calgary’s John Wilson, who offered their support and resources (Dr. Nima Najand, Dr. Derek Exner, Ian Kabetu and Anthony Blythe). The University of Calgary’s Dr. Craig Johansen approached the team, offering his help and three graduate students (Shaun Gair, Colin Hill, and Declan Quinn), who were critical for the software development and mechanical design. 

We needed support on the electronics, and through our electrical engineer, Jason George from Catch Engineering (Calgary), we discovered PLC Electronic Solutions (Vancouver, BC).  Marc Alfonso and Mike Johnson from PLC Electronic Solutions worked on the project. 

We needed an ISO 13485 manufacturing facility, and we approached Logican Technologies in Edmonton (Pat Lee, Darren Krawchuk, and Greg Omelchenko) and they offered their facility and support to the cause. 

Two companies manufactured the metal parts: Global Power Technologies (Paul Lamoureux) made the mechanical arm assembly and the control panel enclosure; and Laser Equation (Mora Wilson) fabricated the gears. 

Once we got into the design and testing, we realized quickly we needed further Alberta Health Services support, and they connected us to Irina Charania, a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) at the ATSSL.  Irina worked with the design team to create something that works in a clinical setting and connected us further to other RRTs to user-test.

This was an incredible collaboration showcasing innovation in Canada.

Thank you to our many collaborators on this project