An iron lung at Ripon High School the past two weeks has reminded students of how polio victims once depended on mechanical respirators to breathe.

   Located in a room adjacent to the counselor’s offices, the device and information posters informed students about progress made to eradicate the paralyzing and potentially fatal disease.

   The 90-year-old iron lung devices have long since been replaced by smaller, more effective ventilators, but Ripon Rotary President Karen Geisler wants to see those machines become obsolete as well.

   The first iron lungs, also known as “artificial lungs” or “artificial-breathing machines,” were developed for ventilation purposes by Harvard professors Philip Drinker and Louis Agassiz Shaw in 1929.

   The Drinker Collins Iron Lung (an original respirator) displayed at Ripon High School was fully restored by Ace Irrigation and Mfg. of Kearney, Neb.

   John Henderson from the Rotary Club of Elkhorn, Wis. now stores the 800-pound respirator in Elkhorn.

Read the full story in the Oct. 10, 2019 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.