It Takes a Village: How One Team is Making Strides to Save Your Life

By David Thompson

Dec 14, 2022 07:14 AM EST

Scientists in a Laboratory(Pavel Danilyuk) (Credit: Getty Image)

Imagine you or someone you love is involved in a traumatic event like a car accident or shooting, and your life is in the hands of a qualified medical responder who has seconds to perform a life-saving procedure on you and determine if it worked. Would you want that person to essentially guess whether or not they did the procedure correctly? 

While the answer to that question is probably a resounding "no," the reality is that this is the  situation many emergency responders face. A pneumothorax usually occurs during traumatic injuries. This means that air escapes into the space between the lung and chest wall causing the lung to collapse. As the air continues to be trapped, it causes pressure buildup that compresses and blocks the blood vessels carrying blood back to the heart. Within minutes, the patient can go into cardiac arrest. 

To prevent this from happening, emergency personnel must perform a needle thoracostomy, a procedure in which a needle is inserted into the patient's chest to release the air and relieve the air buildup. Until now, the only way to know if the procedure was done correctly is to listen for a gush of air when the needle is inserted. This sound indicates that the needle is in the right place. 

Because pneumothorax occurs after a trauma, listening for air is often done in an ambulance or other loud environment. It is nearly impossible with the noise that surrounds the procedure, so ultimately the patient's life becomes dependent on a guess.

For one doctor, guessing is just not enough. Dr. Johnathon Aho found himself frustrated when he realized that trying to listen for a "gush of air," or ultimately guessing that the procedure was done right, is unacceptable when that guess can mean the difference between life and death. After all, the technology is out there, so why not use it to take the guesswork out of this life-saving procedure? 

Out of this frustration and a desire to make patient care safer, Dr. Aho created the Pneumeric Capnospot,  a novel visual detection device for needle thoracostomy. This lightweight and portable device changes color when it comes in contact with that all-important "gush of air", allowing first responders to see that the procedure was done correctly instead of simply relying on their guess. 

While Dr. Aho, a General Surgeon and scientist with extensive experience developing devices, invented this revolutionary device, he's not alone. He works alongside a team of dedicated experts that continuously work towards getting the funding and approvals necessary to get the Pneumeric Capnospot into every ambulance and emergency room.

Sasha Gentling, Co-Founder & Executive Vice President of Business Development, and Todd Wiltshire, CFO & Chief Investment Officer, are focused on the business and finance aspects of the company. In addition, they continuously develop partnerships for Pneumeric Inc.

Although Pneumeric has secured funding to manufacture the Capnospot device and continue its research and development, the company continues to seek funding to distribute the device and finish the regulatory approval process.  Through MicroVentures, you, too, can help make this device available to everyone when it matters most. For more information on Capnospot, visit

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