En route resuscitation - Utilization of CCATT to transport and stabilize critically injured and unstable casualties

Joseph K. Maddry, Eric M. Ball, Daniel B. Cox, Kathleen M. Flarity, Vikhyat S. Bebarta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Introduction: The U.S. Air Force utilizes specialized Critical Care Air Transport Teams (CCATT) for transporting "stabilized" patients. Given the drawdown of military forces from various areas of operation, recent CCATT operations have increasingly involved the evacuation of unstable and incompletely resuscitated patients from far forward, austere locations. This brief report describes unique cases representative of the evolving CCATT mission and provides future direction for changes in doctrine and educational requirements in preparation for en route combat casualty care. Methods and Materials: This case series describes three patients who required significant resuscitation during CCATT transport from austere locations between April and November 2017. Approval for this project was received from the US Air Force 59th Medical Wing Institutional Review Board as non-research. Results: Case 1: CCATT was dispatched to transport patient 1 who was reported to have a head injury after a fall. Upon evaluation of the patient onboard the aircraft, it was discovered that the patient was in cardiac arrest. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation was performed during tactical takeoff with frequent combat maneuvers. The patient developed a palpable pulse after three rounds of CPR, three doses of epinephrine, and one unit of packed red blood cells. Point of care laboratory analysis demonstrated a profoundly elevated lactate level. Cyanide poisoning was a concern but there was no antidote available in the available equipment set. After delivery to a medical facility, blood samples were positive for cyanide. Over the next 2 weeks, the patient improved and was discharged home, neurologically intact. Case 2: Patient 2 sustained complex blast injuries and bilateral lower extremity amputations. He required early transport for continuous renal replacement therapy (CRRT). The patient received 200 units of blood products in the 24 hours prior to transport and developed renal failure, pulmonary edema, and elevated ICP. During the 7 hour flight, Patient 2 received frequent adjustments of vasopressor medications, multiple Dakins solution soaks and flushes, and 1 unit of fresh frozen plasma. He remained alive 2 months later. Case 3: The team was notified to collect an urgent patient with a blast lung injury and bilateral lower extremity amputations. The ground team encountered difficulty ventilating the patient. Patient 3 arrived in the back of a pickup truck accompanied by medics and being bag valve mask ventilated with a pulse oximetry reading of 65%. He was secured to the floor of the aircraft which departed within 5 minutes of arrival. An ultrasound of the lungs showed no pneumothorax. By the end of the flight, the patient's oxygen saturation had risen to 95% and he was delivered to the emergency department in stable condition. He later passed away in the operating room due to severe blast lung and cardiac contusion. Conclusion: This brief report demonstrates the need of CCATT in the transport of unstable patients from forward deployed locations. The Air Force has adapted and is continuing to adapt CCATT training, equipment, onboard diagnostics and therapies, and team members' clinical skills to meet en route care combat casualty needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberusy371
Pages (from-to)e172-e176
JournalMilitary medicine
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - May 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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