Air Med J. 2023 May-Jun;42(3):201-209. doi: 10.1016/j.amj.2022.12.007. Epub 2023 Jan 3.
OBJECTIVE: In 2019, our team conducted a literature review of air medical evacuation high-level containment transport (AE-HLCT) of patients infected with high-consequence pathogens. Since that publication, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in numerous air medical evacuations. We re-examined the new literature associated with AE-HLCTs to determine new innovations developed as a result of the pandemic.
METHODS: A literature search was performed in PubMed/MEDLINE from February 2019 to October 2021. The authors screened abstracts for the inclusion criteria and reviewed full articles if the abstract was relevant to the aim.
RESULTS: Our search criteria yielded 19 publications. Many of the early transports of patients with COVID-19 used established protocols for AE-HLCT, which were built from the most recent transports of patients with Ebola virus disease. Innovations from the identified articles are subdivided into preflight considerations, in-flight operations, and postflight operations.
CONCLUSION: Lessons gleaned from AE-HLCTs of patients with COVID-19 in the early weeks of the pandemic, when little was known about transmission or the severity of the novel disease, have advanced the field of AE-HLCT. Teams that had never conducted such transports now have experience and processes. However, more research into AE-HLCT is needed, including research related to single-patient portable isolation units as well as containerized/multipatient transportation systems.