Helicopter Transport in Regionalized Burn Care: One Program's Perspective

Benjamin Nicholson, Harinder Dhindsa
Air Medical Journal 2016, 35 (6): 355-359

BACKGROUND: The decision to use helicopter EMS (HEMS) for the transport of burn patients is a complex decision. This analysis sought to evaluate burn patients flown to burn centers who met predetermined criteria for patients who likely benefit from HEMS care.

METHODS: A retrospective transport chart review of all burn transports covering the preceding nine and a half years was conducted to evaluate for HEMS appropriate criteria defined as patients requiring advanced airway management, ventilator support, facial burns, inhalation injury, circumferential burns, electrical or chemical burn, or major burns. All ages were included.

RESULTS: A total of 171 cases were identified. Thirty-one (18.1%) were pediatric. Facial burns constituted the most frequent criteria met with 112 (65.5%) patients identified. Sixty-nine (40.4%) had suspected inhalation injuries. Fifty-five (32.2%) patients were intubated. Forty (28.6%) adults and twelve (38.7%) children had major burns.

CONCLUSION: Of the 171 burn patient transported, twenty-one (12.3%) patients did not meet any HEMS criteria. Excluding those who did not meet any criteria, 98 (57.3%) patients were flown with non-major burns. Efforts are needed to determine the risks burn patients face if slower, non-critical care transport is utilized and which patients are appropriate for HEMS.


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