You're Trained, You're Ready, Panic is Not in Your Vocabulary: When a Helicopter Becomes a Delivery Room


Poster Presentation

Purpose for the Program

Vaginal delivery in a helicopter is an unpredictable and uncommon emergency. A healthcare provider's ability to react prudently in an unexpected situation is one of the most critical factors in creating a positive outcome in an obstetric emergency. This emergency delivery pilot program prepares the life flight team and maternal transport team to successfully manage together this rare and unpredictable obstetric emergency through simulated training experiences that pose no risk to mother and infant.

Proposed Change

To develop collaborative emergency delivery training between the life flight and maternal transport crews. The life flight helicopter air-medical transport system was established at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in June 1984. A maternal transport team dedicated to the care and transport of high-risk pregnant women was established in 1986. These two teams have come together to transport mothers with perinatal complications, or those at risk of premature delivery to a hospital that can provide a higher level of care. The crew configuration for obstetric transports includes one obstetrically trained registered nurse and one primary life flight registered nurse or paramedic. This interprofessional pilot program will provide this training.

Implementation, Outcomes, and Evaluation

A pretest of 30 questions to document the participants’ knowledge of emergency delivery was administered. The average number of correct responses was 18.8 for the life flight team and 24.7 for the maternal transport team. The reference population for this collaborative includes 21 life flight nurses, one paramedic, and 15 maternal transport nurses.

The didactic segment includes five e-learning modules. These modules review strategies for emergency vaginal delivery management, correct application of interventions to manage vaginal delivery complications, infant stabilization, and relevant team communication tools. Data will be collected for prelearning and postlearning comparison.

Completion of the emergency delivery e-learning will be a mandatory requirement before participation in a helicopter in situ simulation. Using a standardized patient and partial obstetric task trainer, the aim of the simulation component will be to analyze the crews’ performance using real-life emergency delivery scenarios, detect areas of deficiency, and initiate performance improvements that will transfer to applied clinical practice.

Implications for Nursing Practice

Evidence-based guidelines exist for safe vaginal delivery practices. The challenge is to ensure that these guidelines are applied to every patient every time, regardless of whether the delivery occurs inside a hospital or en route to a hospital.