The COVID-19 pandemic poses a challenge to critical care retrieval systems, which often depend on small teams of specialists who live and work together closely, Bredmose et al writes in Scandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine.
The infection or quarantining of a small absolute number of these staff could catastrophically compromise service delivery.
Avoiding occupational exposure to COVID-19, and thereby ensuring service continuity, is the primary objective of aeromedical retrieval services during the pandemic.
In this discussion paper we collaborated with helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) worldwide to identify risks in retrieving COVID-19 patients, and develop strategies to mitigate these.
Simulation involving the whole aeromedical retrieval team ensures that safety concerns can be addressed during the development of a standard operating procedure.
Some services tested personal protective equipment and protocols in the aeromedical environment with simulation. We also incorporated experiences, standard operating procedures and approaches across several HEMS services internationally.
As a result of this collaboration, we outline an approach to the safe aeromedical retrieval of a COVID-19 patient, and describe how this framework can be used to develop a local standard operating procedure.