Abstract The increasing workload experienced by emergency departments and the difficulties with transferring patients out of the ED has meant emergency departments are caring for patients longer. Many of these patients are acutely ill and often these patients are requiring advanced airway management and ventilation. In caring for the ventilated patient the emergency nurse needs to have an understanding of the different types of respiratory failure, the common types of ventilators and the different types of ventilation modes available. The ventilated patient requires specialised care and the emergency nurse must be knowledgeable in the theory and practice of ventilation. To ensure the ventilated patient's safety the emergency nurse needs to be comfortable with the type of ventilator they are using in their department and proficient in the appropriate monitoring of patients on ventilators, and astute in detecting ventilator emergencies.