Critical care helicopter transport. Report of 224 cases

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Objective: To report a 5-year experience of pediatric helicopter transport and describe its characteristics, the composition of the team, its indications and the advantages of air versus ground transport. Methods: A total of 224 flights over a 5-year period were retrospectively analyzed. The team was composed of a pediatrician and a pediatric nurse from the Pediatric Department of Hospital Sant Pau and was available 365 days per year from sunrise to sunset. The helicopters belonged to the Royal Automobile Club of Catalonia and were coordinated by the Emergency Medical Service. The area covered was Catalonia and Andorra. The number of patients, age, sex, diagnosis, and response and stabilization times were recorded. Results: There were 220 patients (139 males and 81 females). Six patients died in the primary hospital before transport. Seven flights were canceled because of adverse weather, engine breakdown, or family refusal. Three twin transportations were performed. A total of 214 patients were transported in 224 flights. The mean times (in minutes) were: from emergency call to takeoff: 15; flight time: 39; between landing to the emergency room: 10. The mean stabilization time was 42 min. Conclusions: Helicopter transportation of critically-ill children by specialist teams of pediatricians and nurses shortens response time in isolated areas with poor transport. The lower number of accelerations and vibrations of the helicopter provides greater stability during transport, especially in trauma patients. Both transport models, air and ground, should be complementary.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)529-534
JournalAnales de Pediatria
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2003


  • Helicopter transport
  • Medical transport by air
  • Pediatric critical care transport


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