Helicopter-based in-water resuscitation with chest compressions: a pilot study


Department of Anesthesiology, Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center Milwaukee


BACKGROUND: Drowning is a relevant worldwide cause of severe disability and death. The delay of ventilations and chest compressions is a crucial problem in drowning victims. Hence, a novel helicopter-based ALS rescue concept with in-water ventilation and chest compressions was evaluated.

METHODS: Cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and vascular access were performed in a self-inflating Heliboat platform in an indoor wave pool using the Fastrach intubating laryngeal mask, the Oxylator resuscitator, Lund University Cardiopulmonary Assist System (LUCAS) chest compression device and EZ-IO intraosseous power drill. The time requirement and physical exertion on a Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) were compared between a procedure without waves and with moderate swell.

RESULTS: Measurement of the elapsed time of the various stages of the procedure did not reveal significant differences between calm water and swell: Ventilation was initiated after 02:48 versus 03:02 and chest compression after 04:20 versus 04:18 min; the intraosseous cannulisation was completed after 05:59 versus 06:30 min after a simulated jump off the helicopter. The attachment of the LUCAS to the mannequin and the intraosseous cannulisation was rated significantly more demanding on the VAS during swell conditions.

CONCLUSIONS: CPR appears to be possible when performed in a rescue platform with special equipment. The novel helicopter-based strategy appears to enable the rescuers to initiate CPR in an appropriate length of time and with an acceptable amount of physical exertion for the divers. The time for the helicopter to reach the patient will have to be very short to minimise neurological damage in the drowning victim.

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