Collective Advanced Life Support Ambulance An Innovative Transportation of Critical Care Patients by Bus in COVID-19 Pandemic Response
Background: During the COVID-19 pandemic, as the number of available Intensive Care beds in France did not meet the needs, it appeared necessary to transfer a large number of patients from the most affected areas to the less ones. Mass transportation resources were deemed necessary. To achieve that goal, the concept of a Collective Advanced Life Support Ambulance (CALSA) was proposed in the form of a long-distance bus re-designed and equipped so as to accommodate up to six intensive care
... s and allow Advanced Life Support (ALS) techniques to be performed while en route.Methods: The expected benefit of the CALSA, when compared to ALS ambulances accommodating a single patient, was to reduce the resources requirements, in particular by a lower personnel headcount for several patients being transferred to the same destination. A foreseen prospect, comparing to other collective transportation vectors such as airplanes, was the door-to-door capability, minimalizing patients' handovers for safety concerns and time efficiency. With the project of a short-distance transfer of several Intensive Care Unit (ICU) patients together, the opportunity came to test the CALSA under real-life conditions and evaluate safely its technical feasibility and impact in time and resources saving, before it could be proposed for longer distances.Results: Four COVID-19 patients were transported over 37 km. All patients were intubated and under controlled ventilation. One of them was under Norepinephrine support. Mean loading time was 1min 39s. Transportation time was 29 min. At destination, the mean unloading time was 1min 15s. No serious adverse effect, in particular regarding hemodynamic instability or ventilation disorder, has been observed. No harmful incident, in particular no accidental extubation, has occurred.Conclusions: It was a very instructive test. Collective medical evacuation by bus for critically ill patients under controlled ventilation is suitable and easy to implement. Design, ALS equipment, power autonomy, safety and resources saving, open the way for carrying up to 6 ICU-patients over a long distance. The CALSA could bring a real added-value in an epidemic context and could also be helpful in many other events generating multiple victims such as an armed conflict, a terrorist attack or a natural disaster.