Date of this Version
Air Medical Journal 31:4 (July- August 2012) 185-88; http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amj.2011.09.004
During the Second Iraq War (Operation Iraqi Freedom), high-intensity, low-utilization medical and surgical services, such as neurosurgical care, were consolidated into a centralized location within the combat zone. This arrangement necessitated intra-theater air medical evacuation of critically ill or injured patients from outlying combat support hospitals (CSH) to another combat zone facility having the needed services. A case series is presented of intratheater transfer of neurosurgical patients in Iraq during 2005-06. Ninety-eight patients are included in the series, with typical transfer distances of 40 miles (approximately 20–25 minutes of flight time). All patients were transported with a CSH nurse in addition to the standard Army EMT-B flight medic. Seventy-six percent of cases were battle injury, 17% were non-battle injuries, and the balance were classified as non-injury mechanisms. Seventy-six percent of cases were head injuries, with the balance involving burns, stroke, and other injuries. At 30 days, 12% of the patients had died, and 9% remained hospitalized in a critical care setting. None of the patients died during evacuation. Intratheater and interfacility transfer of critical care patients in the combat theater often involves severely head-injured and other neurosurgical cases. Current Army staffing for helicopter transport in these case requires a nurse or other advanced personnel to supplement the standard EMT-B flight medic.