The role of the anaesthesiologist in air ambulance medicine

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Purpose of review

The care administered on air ambulances has become increasing complex. This has led to a discussion among experts as to whether air ambulance travel should be manned by physicians. This review provides evidence in support of anaesthesiologists being the physician–leaders in air ambulance medicine, because of their training in advanced airway management, critical care, and resuscitation.

Recent findings

Successful prehospital care requires the ability to perform a complex set of advanced diagnostics and interventions. These include airway management, haemorrhage control, pain management, point-of-care diagnostics, complex interfacility transport, and advanced interventions. This skill set closely mirrors the training and expertise of anaesthesiologists.


There are few studies investigating the specific benefit of anaesthesiologists in air ambulance medicine. However, current evidence indicates that their presence does improve patient care and safety. Future studies on this topic should use evidence-based quality indicators and standardized data sets to seek answers to optimal staffing of air ambulance teams.

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