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On November 17, 2023, the Canadian Forces (CF) Aeromedical Evacuation (AE) Flight, based at 8 Wing Trenton, collaborated with the Quinte Health Intensive Care Unit (ICU) team to conduct a mock training exercise for a patient pick-up mission. The mock exercise involved transporting a critically ill patient from an ICU in a foreign country, travelling in the air, and delivering the patient to another ICU in the patient's home country.

The CF AE Flight, a unit of the Royal Canadian Air Force, is tasked with transporting ill and injured members of the Canadian Forces in support of operations worldwide. The team is staffed with a mix of nursing officers and medical technicians with specialized training in aeromedical evacuation. In addition to supporting military operations, the CF AE Flight recently assisted with the large-scale evacuation of the Yellowknife hospital during the forest fires that threatened the city. The ability to interface with various clinical settings is crucial to the flexibility the CF AE Flight provides to the RCAF and the Government of Canada.

In the ICU mock training exercise, the team practiced patient handover, including matching ventilator settings, changing multiple critical care medications, and transferring the patient to an RCAF CC150 Polaris aircraft for the simulated flight home.

The CF AE team found the exercise helpful in understanding the timing of transporting critically ill patients. They plan to conduct another mock training exercise during their next air evacuation course in March.

“The level of realism provided by working with a real functioning ICU is invaluable to the AE team,” said Dr. Phil Laird, Critical Care Physician at Quinte Health and a Major in the Canadian Armed Forces. Major Laird is part of one Canadian field hospital and often works with the CF AE Flight as a medical specialist.

“It also provides an opportunity for the ICU staff to improve patient handover skills, which are relevant when patients are sent to other facilities for advanced therapies unavailable locally. This training mission was an excellent opportunity for both teams to practice and work together and is an example of the collaborative relationship between 8 Wing and Quinte Health.”

Practicing different scenarios relating to the care of critically ill patients is a crucial aspect of the ICU team’s work. It is essential to have a timely and efficient handover process in high-risk transport scenarios to ensure that patients receive the best possible care.

Shelley Kay, Program Manager of Quinte Health’s ICU, Critical Care Response Team, and Respiratory Therapy, said, “Rehearsal opportunities help form high-functioning care teams, and our ICU team is always happy to participate when possible. We thank 8 Wing Trenton for allowing Quinte Health the opportunity to participate.”



Military personnel load a simulated patient into an ambulance.
Military personnel load a simulated patient into an ambulance at Belleville General Hospital.