Background: Prehospital advanced airway management, including prehospital endotracheal intubation is challenging and recent papers have addressed the need for proper training, skill maintenance and quality control for emergency medical service personnel. The aim of this study was to provide data regarding airway management-training and expertise from the regional physician-staffed emergency medical service (EMS).
Methods: The EMS in this part of The Central Region of Denmark is a two tiered system. The second tier comprises physician staffed Mobile Emergency Care Units. The medical directors of the programs supplied system data. A questionnaire addressing airway management experience, training and knowledge was sent to the EMS-physicians.
Results: There are no specific guidelines, standard operating procedures or standardised program for obtaining and maintaining skills regarding prehospital advanced airway management in the schemes covered by this study. 53/67 physicians responded; 98,1% were specialists in anesthesiology, with an average of 17,6 years of experience in anesthesiology, and 7,2 years experience as EMS-physicians. 84,9% reported having attended life support course(s), 64,2% an advanced airway management course. 24,5% fulfilled the curriculum suggested for Danish EMS physicians. 47,2% had encountered a difficult or impossible PHETI, most commonly in a patient in cardiac arrest or a trauma patient. Only 20,8% of the physicians were completely familiar with what back-up devices were available for airway management.
Conclusions: In this, the first Danish study of prehospital advanced airway management, we found a high degree of experience, education and training among the EMS-physicians, but their equipment awareness was limited. Check-outs, guidelines, standard operating procedures and other quality control measures may be needed.