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An Experience of Improvised Laryngoscopy

Alison Matthews
Wilderness & Environmental Medicine 2018, 29 (3): 357-365
Airway management in the wilderness runs the gamut from basic airway support to endotracheal intubation. Fortunately, direct laryngoscopy is a seldom called upon skill in expedition medicine. However, the medical skills required during a mission or expedition are never truly known in advance. Improvisation during evolving medical events is a mainstay of expedition medicine education and practice. It is unlikely, given constraints of weight and size of expedition medical kits, that a conventional laryngoscope would find its way into a standard "go bag." Faced with the real but rare event of needing to intubate a patient in an austere environment, how can improvisation be used? Multiple ideas for improvised laryngoscopes can be found in the wilderness medicine literature, but which, if any, of these devices have true clinical utility? To this end, participants of a recent Wilderness Medical Society preconference in medical elements of light search and rescue were given the opportunity to devise and construct their own improvised laryngoscopes and attempt intubation of a training mannequin. Participants with varying degrees of intubating experience improvised effective laryngoscopes from provided materials and successfully intubated an airway mannequin.


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