Critical Care Nursing Expertise During Air Transport


Name: Darla Topley

Rank: Capt, USAF

Organization: The Geneva Foundation

Performance Site: Wilford Hall Medical Center, Lackland AFB, San Antonio, TX

Year Published: 1997

Abstract Status: Final


A new concept in the Air Force's Aeromedical Evacuation (AE) has emerged over the past two years, the Critical Care Air Transport Team (CCATT). CCATT has been developed to extend the capabilities of aeromedical transport of critically ill or injured patients. Critical Care nurses play a vital role on the CCATT, however that role extends beyond the typical hospital critical care and aeromedical evacuation positions. Due to the unique nature of the CCATT concept, there is little in the way of literature or standards to guide nursing. The purpose of this study is to describe CCATT nurses' practical (experiential) knowledge when assessing and treating critically ill patients during transportation by air. The specific aims of this study are to: 1) describe expert nurses' practical knowledge in the assessment and treatment of critically ill patients during critical care air transport; and 2) distinguish salient features of expert nurses' knowledge of critical care in the air and compare to critical care nursing in the hospital setting. Collecting and analyzing these data will enable us to answer the following questions: What are the common nursing problems experienced by critically ill patients during air transport? What are the salient features of CCATT nursing assessment? To what extent does traditional critical care nursing knowledge translate to the AE environment? What aspects of providing critical care are particular to this situation? To address these questions, this exploratory, descriptive study will use interpretive phenomenology using written narratives, group interviews, participant observation and individual interviews, and review of inflight documentation of care. Purposive sampling of 12 experienced CCATT nurses will be used. Data will be transcribed and entered into a qualitative research computer program. Data analysis will begin concurrently with data collection. Recurrent themes and patterns of meaning will be identified by the investigators, thematic analysis will be done to clarify common meanings and low inference descriptors will be used.


Final report is available on NTRL: