Advancing Prehospital Combat Casualty Evacuation: Patients Amenable to Aeromedical Evacuation via Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Joseph K. Maddry, Allyson A. Arana, Alejandra G. Mora, Crystal A. Perez, Julie E. Cutright, Braden M. Kester, Patrick C. Ng, Steven G. Schauer, Vikhyat S. Bebarta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


INTRODUCTION: The U.S. military currently utilizes unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for reconnaissance and attack missions; however, as combat environment technology advances, there is the increasing likelihood of UAV utilization in prehospital aeromedical evacuation. Although some combat casualties require life-saving interventions (LSIs) during medical evacuation, many do not. Our objective was to describe patients transported from the point of injury to the first level of care and characterize differences between patients who received LSIs en route and those who did not. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We conducted a retrospective review of the records of traumatically injured patients evacuated between January 2011 and March 2014. We compared patient characteristics, complications, and outcomes based on whether they had an LSI performed en route (LSI vs. No LSI). We also constructed logistic regression models to determine which characteristics predict uneventful flights (no en route LSI or complications). RESULTS: We examined 1,267 patient records; 47% received an LSI en route. Most patients (72%) sustained a blast injury and injuries to the extremities and head. Over 78% experienced complications en route; the LSI group had higher rates of complications compared to the No LSI group. Logistic regression showed that having a blunt injury or the highest abbreviated injury scale (AIS) severity score in the head/neck region are significant predictors of having an uneventful flight. CONCLUSION: Approximately half of casualties evaluated in our study did not receive an LSI during transport and may have been transported safely by UAV. Having a blunt injury or the highest AIS severity score in the head/neck region significantly predicted an uneventful flight.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e366-e372
JournalMilitary medicine
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Feb 26 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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