The laryngeal mask airway is included as a first line airway device during adult resuscitation by first responders. However, there is little evidence for its role in paediatric resuscitation. Using anaesthetised children as a model for paediatric cardiopulmonary arrest, we compared the ability of critical care nurses to manually ventilate the anaesthetised child via the laryngeal mask airway compared with the facemask and oropharyngeal airway. The airway devices were inserted in random order and chest expansion was measured using an ultrasound distance transducer. The critical care nurses were able to place the laryngeal mask airway and achieve successful ventilation in 82% of children compared to 70% using the facemask and oropharyngeal airway, although the difference was not statistically significant (p = 0.136). The median time to first successful breath using the laryngeal mask airway was 39 s compared to 25 s using the facemask (p < 0.001). In this group of nurses, we did not show a difference in ventilation via a laryngeal mask airway or facemask, although facemask ventilation was achieved more quickly.