Helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) is an important part of prehospital emergency medicine. The working conditions lead to high physical stress, especially in rescue operations. To date, little is known about the cardiovascular stress of HEMS crew members in the rescue service. Examinations of professional groups in public security have shown a significant risk in these. The present study aims to determine the cardiovascular stress profile during rescue situations in HEMS crew members.
A total number of 21 (male n=20) HEMS crew members (11 emergency physicians and 10 paramedics) participated in the prospective study. Heart rate (HR), blood pressure (BP) and long-term ECG measurements were recorded at the whole operation day. The changes of measurements during rescue operation (in total 52 operations) were compared to these of standby time.
Rescue operations lead to increased load on the cardiovascular system. Expression of this is significantly higher BP, HR values and rate of cardiac events compared to standby time. Significantly higher of both, mean and maximal, diastolic and systolic blood pressure were measured on duty. Especially the difference in BP sys mean is 7.4 ± 9.0 mmHg (7.4, CI [5.1; 9.7], p <0.001). HR minimal, mean and maximal were also significantly higher during rescue operations. HR max was 33.7 bpm higher on average than in the standby time (CI [26.2; 40.8], p <0.001). Cardiac events occurred significantly more frequently during the period of rescue operation than in standby time hours (time volume of 1 hour, p = 0.02).
The results show a significant load on the cardiovascular system during rescue operations in HEMS crew members. This is expressed in a higher occurrence of extrasystoles, HR and BP values during rescue operation than on standby time. Therefore, it is important to carry out a risk stratification of the personnel deployed in the HEMS crew members to prevent cardiovascular risk and events.