Review of Literature for Air Medical Evacuation High-Level Containment Transport

Air Med J. 2019 Sep-Oct;38(5):359-365. doi: 10.1016/j.amj.2019.06.006. Epub 2019 Jul 18.


Introduction: Aeromedical evacuation (AE) is a challenging process, further complicated when a patient has a highly hazardous communicable disease (HHCD). We conducted a review of the literature to evaluate the processes and procedures utilized for safe AE high-level containment transport (AE-HLCT) of patients with HHCDs.

Methods: A literature search was performed in PubMed/MEDLINE (from 1966 through January 2019). Authors screened abstracts for inclusion criteria and full articles were reviewed if the abstract was deemed to contain information related to the aim.

Results: Our search criteria yielded 14 publications and were separated based upon publication dates, with the natural break point being the beginning of the 2013-2016 Ebola virus disease epidemic. Best practices and recommendations from identified articles are subdivided into pre-flight preparations, inflight operations, and post-flight procedures.

Conclusions: Limited peer-reviewed literature exists on AE-HLCT, including important aspects related to healthcare worker fatigue, alertness, shift scheduling, and clinical care performance. This hinders the sharing of best practices to inform evacuations and equip teams for future outbreaks. Despite the successful use of different aircraft and technologies, the unique nature of the mission opens the opportunity for greater coordination and development of consensus standards for AE-HLCT operations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Ambulances / organization & administration*
  • Rescue Work*