It has now been identified that the COVID-19 virus has arrived in Maine with multiple cases diagnosed in a variety of regions of the state. LifeFlight of Maine has been working diligently to remain at the forefront of identifying the safest and most vigilant manner of transporting these critically ill patients from critical access systems to tertiary and quaternary hospitals within Maine and New England. Simultaneously, we have been working with pre-hospital staff to ensure that we are able to transport patients under investigation for COVID-19 (PUI) from remote portions of the state in a safe manner.
The most important piece of information that should be communicated is that we will continue to transport all critically ill or injured patients, as we have always done
. After much review with our medical directors, we have determined that it is most appropriate to transport these patients with our ground assets. To ensure the safety of our crews and decrease the possibility of accidental exposure, we will limit our use of aircraft UNLESS
other reasonable options do not exist (i.e. remote regions including islands or other remote access areas). However, we do realize that in many cases, hospitals and EMS personnel require the resources and expertise of the LifeFlight of Maine crew. Therefore, to expedite our arrival we may fly a team to a hospital or appropriate location and then initiate ground transport.
We have developed Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for patients with COVID-19. As recommendations evolve and are updated from the CDC, primary literature, and regional medical centers, we will make additional revisions.
Not only are we addressing the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), but also precautions surrounding procedures including intubation and ventilation management. Our crews are briefed on these updates and are following these recommendations as they evolve. We are also extensively debriefing transports to accelerate our internal learning/QAPI and sharing with other agencies.
Lastly, these documents are as dynamic as the unprecedented pandemic we now face. As new information is released, we will be updating our practices to meet the standards of care and the needs of the system.
In order to ensure that we manage these patients as consistently as possible across the state, it is imperative that we all work in concert together.