BACKGROUND Many advancements in supraglottic airway technology have occurred since the start of the Global War on Terrorism. While the Tactical Combat Casualty Care guidelines previously recommend the i-gel device, this is based on little data and minimal end-user input. OBJECTIVE We sought to use a mixed methods approach to investigate the properties of an ideal device for inclusion into the medic's aid bag. METHODS We performed prospective, serial qualitative studies to uncover and articulate themes relative to airway device usability with 68W-combat medics. 68W are trained roughly to the level of a civilian advanced emergency medical technician with a heavier focus on trauma care. Physicians with airway expertise demonstrated the use of each device and provided formal training on all the presented devices. We then administered performed focus groups to solicit end-user feedback along with survey data. RESULTS We enrolled 250 medics during the study. The preponderance of medics were of the rank E4 (28%) and E5 (44%). Only 35% reported ever placing a supraglottic airway in a real human. When reporting on usability, the i-gel had the highest median score, ease of manipulation, grip comfort and ease of insertion while also scoring the best in regard to requiring minimal training. The other compared devices had no clear highest score. Qualitative data saturated around a strong preference for the BaskaMask and/or the i-gel airway device, with the least favorite being the AirQ and the LMA Fastrach airway devises. There was a strong qualitative alignment in how both the BaskaMask and i-gel provided ease of use and simplicity of training. CONCLUSION There were strong qualitative preferences for two specific airway devices: Baska Mask and i-gel. However, many medics commented on their previous experience with the i-gel compared with the other devices, which may have biased them toward the i-gel. The overall data suggest that medics would prefer a device engineered with features from several devices. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE Therapeutic/care management; Level V.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine