Info on Transport of Patients w/ COVID19
March 16, 2020
In these uncertain times, we wanted to get some information out regarding transport of patients who are diagnosed with coronavirus. There are many variables that could affect your decision whether to transport or not but here are some thoughts from our Board members who are actively involved in Rotorwing, Fixed Wing and Ground transport.
Response from Mike Brunko, MD, Flight for Life Medical Director (CAMTS Board Member)
Many programs, including mine, have halted transport of patients diagnosed with coronavirus by rotor, primarily because of inability to control and to be able to protect crew and pilots from patient contact (especially in helicopters where it is not possible to physically separate the infected patient from the pilot) and/or the inability to get adequate N95 fitting with helmets. In our case, we have the added pressure of flying above 12000 feet, with oxygen on. It is difficult to decontaminate a helicopter as opposed to an airplane or ambulance and the air flow is not as easy to control. Right now, many busy academic programs are not transporting by rotor, but are by fixed wing or ground. Some are only doing intubated patients where we can control the filtration of inhalation and exhalation and lessen/prevent the aerosol exposure.
The AMPA Board Is actively discussing the literature, experience and their institutions’ recommendations. Most programs’ crews were fitted and tested for PAPR and N95s without helmets and likely didn’t consider the importance of separate testing (a standard we will need to address in the future). Today, I feel, ground and FW should be used and rotor CONSIDERED only for time sensitive critical ARDS patients where ECMO or ventilation strategies are necessary. This truly is a dynamic situation which may change tomorrow.
Webinar from Ashley Smith – NATA representative
Specific to fixed wing transports – please see the link on the www.camts.org website to the NATA webinar that our board member, Ashley Smith, made available last week.