The provision of sophisticated critical care beyond the hospital: Lessons from physiology and military experiences that apply to civil disaster medical response

Thomas E. Grissom, J. Christopher Farmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

56 Scopus citations


Objective: The provision of sophisticated medical care in an austere environment is challenging. During and after a mass casualty event, it is likely that critical care services will be needed beyond an intensive care unit (ICU) setting. The objective of this article is to explore existing ICU care systems such as military aeromedical transport that may be applicable to disaster medicine and to providing critical care outside of an ICU setting. Results: The U.S. Air Force Critical Care Aeromedical Transport (CCAT) Teams were developed in 1994 in response to an unmet military need for long-range air transport of critically ill and injured patients. This system has transported several thousand ICU patients and is an applicable model for the future development of extrahospital critical care capabilities needed during a disaster. We also discuss civilian aeromedical critical care systems, the types of medical devices used, and their applicability to disaster medical response. Conclusion: The U.S. Air Force CCAT Team program, as well as many civilian critical care air ambulance services, provides a workable starting point for the development of disaster medical critical care response capabilities for disaster medical systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCritical Care Medicine
Issue number1 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Jan 2005



  • Aeromedical evacuation
  • Austere critical care
  • Disaster critical care
  • Intensive care unit air transport
  • Portable intensive care unit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine

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