Airway Management in the Prehospital, Combat Environment: Analysis of After-Action Reviews and Lessons Learned


Schauer SG, Naylor, JF, Beaumont, DM, April MD, Tanaka K, Baldwin D, Maddry JK, Becker TE, De Lorenzo RA 20(3). 62 - 66 (Journal Article)

Introduction: Airway compromise is the second leading cause of potentially survivable death on the battlefield. Studies show that airway management is a challenge in prehospital combat care with high error and missed opportunity rates. Lacking is user information on the perceived reasons for the challenges. The US military uses several performance improvement and field feedback systems to solicit feedback regarding deployed experiences. We seek to review feedback and after-action reviews (AARs) from end-users with specific regard to airway challenges noted. Methods: We queried the Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL), the Army Medical Department Lessons Learned (AMEDDLL), and the Joint Lessons Learned Information System (JLLIS).Our queries comprised a series of search terms with a focus on airway management. Three military emergency medicine expert reviewers performed the primary analysis for lessons learned specific to deployment and predeployment training lessons learned. Upon narrowing the scope of entries to those relevant to deployment and predeployment training, a panel of eight experts performed reviews. The varied nature of the sources lent itself to an unstructured qualitative approach with results tabulated into thematic categories. Results: Our initial search yielded 611 nonduplicate entries. The primary reviewers then analyzed these entries to determine relevance to the project-this resulted in 70 deployment- based lessons learned and four training-based lessons learned. The panel of eight experts then reviewed the 74 lessons learned. We categorized 37 AARs as equipment challenges/malfunctions, 28 as training/education challenges, and 9 as other. Several lessons learned specifically stated that units failed to prioritize medic training; multiple comments suggested that units should consider sending their medics to civilian training centers. Other comments highlighted equipment shortages and equipment malfunctions specific to certain mission types (e.g., pediatric casualties, extreme weather). Conclusions: In this review of military lessons learned systems, most of the feedback referenced equipment malfunctions and gaps in initial and maintenance training.This review of AARs provides guidance for targeted research efforts based the needs of the end-users.

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