Aim Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) and Search and Rescue (SAR) helicopters are highly specialised, sparse resources that are used in major incidents (MI) to transport medical personnel to the scene for triage, treatment and transport.1 We aimed to collect data on experiences from Norwegian HEMS/SAR from the last five years to identify potential areas of improvement in preparedness for and management of MI.
Methods All Norwegian HEMS/SAR personnel were invited to participate in a cross-sectional survey. They were presented with questions regarding basic demographic data, experience from real incidents and training and equipment.
Results Of 329 invited, 229 (70%) responded. Rescue paramedics and pilots had experience from a median of three MI, doctors had experience from a median of one. Road traffic incidents were most common (n=61, 48%), blunt trauma the dominating injury (n=51, 59%). HEMS/SAR crewmembers mainly contributed with triage, treatment and transport. Multiple helicopters attended 83% of the incidents. Own or other HEMS/SAR unit coordinated on-scene helicopters in 71% of MI, only 41% of the pilots had guidelines for coordination. Communication with participating agencies was described as bad prior to arrival, but good to excellent on-scene. Among SAR pilots, 80% (n=20) reported lack of equipment for situational awareness, but only 9% (n=3) among the HEMS pilots. More interdisciplinary exercises were desirable.
Conclusion HEMS/SAR crewmembers have infrequent exposure to MI management. Communication remains a challenge. Training on frequent scenarios with other agencies is called for.
Johnsen AS, Fattah S, Sollid SJM, Rehn M. Utilisation of helicopter emergency medical services in the early medical response to major incidents: a systematic literature review. BMJ Open. 2016;6(2):e010307.
Conflict of interest None declared.
Funding All authors are employed by Norwegian Air Ambulance Foundation. However, the NAAF played no part in study design, data collection, analysis, writing or submitting to publication.
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