Flying doctor emergency airway registry: a 3-year, prospective, observational study of endotracheal intubation by the Queensland Section of the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia

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Abstract

Objective

To describe the profile and success rates of emergency endotracheal intubation conducted by the Queensland Royal Flying Doctor Service aeromedical retrieval team comprising a doctor and flight nurse.

Method

Each intubator completed a study questionnaire at the time of each intubation for indications, complications, overall success, drugs utilised and deployment of rescue airway devices/adjuncts.

Results

76 patients were intubated; 72 intubations were successful. None required surgical airway and three were managed with laryngeal mask airways; the remaining failure was managed with simple airway positioning for transport. There were two cardiac arrests during intubation. Thiopentone and suxamethonium were the predominant drugs used to facilitate intubation.

Conclusion

Despite a low rate of endotracheal intubation, the high success rate was similar to other aeromedical organisations' published airway data. This study demonstrates the utility of the laryngeal mask airway device in the retrieval and transport setting, in particular for managing a failed intubation.

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