Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic: The experiences of South Australia's Rescue, Retrieval and Aviation Services
Emerg. med Australas
COVID-19 poses significant challenges to pre-hospital and retrieval medicine (PHRM) clinicians - and many are unique to this area of clinical practice. We share the experiences of the South Australian Ambulance Service (SAAS) MedSTAR Emergency Medical Retrieval Service in preparing for the COVID-19 pandemic in the pre-hospital and retrieval setting - including the role of a multidisciplinary leadership team; challenges and potential approaches to screening for COVID-19; personal protective equipment for pre-hospital and aeromedical taskings; issues arising with interstate retrievals; and the role of telehealth. Although novel solutions allowed SAAS MedSTAR to continue to deliver high-quality care, considering the resource implications involved in undertaking the transfer of patients with COVID-19, it is clear that significant community disease transmission threatens to overwhelm any PHRM service. Should Australia face a significant future outbreak, it is conceivable that some PHRM operations may need to be reduced or suspended entirely.