Respiratory Therapists: Warriors in the Fight Against COVID-19

 Published: March 20, 2020

By: Heather Willden


image of respiratory therapist working with covid-19
These Unsung Heroes Stand Ready and United for Patient Care

“Now, more than ever before, the role of the respiratory therapist is vital to the health of our nation,” said AARC Executive Director Tom Kallstrom, MBA, RRT, FAARC. “Respiratory therapists sacrifice and dedicate themselves to helping their patients and their communities during this time of COVID-19.”

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United for Care

Respiratory therapists all over the country and beyond stand united during this time, working to help patients and their communities. These specialized health care practitioners are trained in cardiopulmonary care in order to work therapeutically with people suffering from pulmonary disease. They are on the front line in the COVID-19 fight, working with physicians to help patients survive.

Ventilator Expertise

According to Timothy R. Myers MBA, RRT-NPS, FAARC, AARC Chief Business Officer, “the respiratory therapist is the only health care clinician didactically and clinically educated and trained in the art and science of mechanical ventilation.”

COVID-19 attacks the lungs and respiratory system of patients. This is where ventilators come in to help.

“Ventilators are life support technologies. About 5% of the patients with COVID-19 cannot sustain normal respiratory function and are required to be intubated—the placement of a breathing tube into their airway,” Myers said.

Trained respiratory therapists determine the appropriate ventilator settings to match the patient’s respiratory needs. From that point, they provide constant monitoring and assessment and modify the setting as the patient’s condition improves or worsens.

Needed for Patients

There are about 150,000 respiratory therapists in the U.S., and the need for more continues to grow ( Respiratory therapists often cite a “calling to serve” others as their inspiration to pursue the profession. This driving purpose is profoundly evident as they work with patients and medical teams during this crisis.

“Warriors for health. An essential component for patients. A keystone in the COVID-19 battle. I commend respiratory therapists all over for their work and selfless acts of service and caring for patients,” Kallstrom said. “For all they do, yesterday, today, tomorrow, and beyond, I say ‘Thank you.’”


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Heather Willden

Heather Willden is the Director of Governance and Strategic Initiatives for the AARC where she works with state affiliates as the HOD liaison. She also manages DEI efforts and strategic initiatives. Connect with her about these topics by email, AARConnect or LinkedIn. When she's not working, you can find her podcasting with her husband, exploring new hiking trails, photographing, and spending time with her family.

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