Evaluation of Dutch Helicopter Emergency Medical Services in transporting children
until further notice
SourceAir Medical Journal, 33, 3, (2014), pp. 112-114
Article / Letter to editor
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Air Medical Journal
SubjectRadboudumc 0: Other Research RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences; Radboudumc 10: Reconstructive and regenerative medicine RIMLS: Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences; Radboudumc 18: Healthcare improvement science RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences
OBJECTIVE: In the Netherlands, helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) function as an adjunct to paramedic ambulance service delivering hospital-level medical care to a prehospital location. The main goal of Dutch HEMS is to provide on-scene medical expertise and not primarily to serve as transport. The transportation of patients to specialized hospitals is sometimes mandatory, especially in cases of critically ill or wounded children. In the literature, no support can be found to support the safety of transportation by helicopter. We retrospectively evaluated the safety of this type of transportation and if any problems were encountered transporting children by helicopter. METHODS: We reviewed our local HEMS database for all children (, 16 years) transported by helicopter to a level 1 trauma center between January 2007 and December 2012. RESULTS: A total number of 430 patients were transported by helicopter to a hospital (0-87 years, mean 5 31.6 years). Of these patients, 83 (19%) were younger than 16 years (0-15.7 years, mean 5 6.6 years). Causes for HEMS transport in children varied, but the main groups were road traffic accidents (40%), cardiopulmonary arrests (15%), falls from height (12%), and horse riding accidents (7%). In the children group, 1 accidental extubation of the orotracheal tube was noted while lifting the patient (10 years old) into the helicopter. This was immediately noticed, and the patient was reintubated without complications. No further adverse events were encountered during transportation time. The accidental extubation is not a specific complication of helicopter transportation but is inextricably linked with moving severely injured and intubated patients/children. CONCLUSION: We conclude that transporting children by helicopter is a safe method of transportation for critically ill children to adequately equipped medical centers.
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