Transport of COVID-19 and other highly contagious patients by helicopter and fixed-wing air ambulance: a narrative review and experience of the Swiss air rescue Rega | Scandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine | Full Text

The current COVID-19 pandemic highlights the challenges air ambulance services are facing when transporting highly infectious patients for several hours in enclosed spaces. This overview provides an example of a standard operating procedure (SOP) for infection prevention measures in HEMS missions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, we describe different methods used by several organizations in Europe and the experience of the Swiss air rescue organization Rega in transporting these patients. Possible benefits of the use of small patient isolation units (PIU) are discussed, including the fact that accompanying medical personnel do not need to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) during the transport but can still maintain full access to the patient. Rega has developed and patented its own PIU. This device allows spontaneously breathing or mechanically ventilated patients to be transported in pressurized jet cabins, small helicopters and ambulance vehicles, without the need to change between transport units. This PIU is unique, as it remains air-tight even when there is a sudden loss of cabin pressure. A wide variety of means are being used for the aeromedical transport of infectious patients. These involve isolating either the patient or the medical crew. One benefit of PIUs is that the means of transport can be easily changed without contaminating the surroundings and while still allowing access to the patient.
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