Monday, February 28, 2005

Use of Air Ambulances

Interesting post at Cut to Cure regarding the increased use of air ambulances and crashes.

When I was in the Navy, helicopter transport was fairly routine. However, we were still just a little bit more nervous when it came to flying a patient. We had pilots who needed flight hours and they didn't have to justify the gas if it was for a medevac. Plus, my corpsmen were always excited about flying and usually only got to do it for medevacs.

I flew in a few medevacs while in the Navy but will never forget the night a helo went down in the Pacific off the coast of Camp Pendleton while flying a patient. The flight surgeon was just along for the ride. Everyone on board died. I don't remember the details of the medevac, but ever since I critically evaluate the risk of flying a patient.

In my community ER, we have not infrequent need to transfer a patient. Often the nurses will assume the transport will be by helicopter. But I always wonder whether the ground transport will be just as effective and possibly less risky. Certainly less costly.