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Air Methods’ Airway Care Process Published in Trauma Care Textbook


Air Methods, an emergency air medical services company, announced today that a life-saving trauma-care prediction tool developed by its clinicians has been published in the textbook for the world’s leading emergency medicine continuing education (CE) program. The HEAVEN Criteria is now established as the gold standard process for airway management and will save lives in prehospital emergency settings.


HEAVEN, which stands for Hypoxemia, Extremes of size, Anatomic abnormalities, Vomit/blood/fluid, Exsanguination, Neck mobility, was developed by Air Methods’ clinical education manager David Olvera, NRP, FP-C, CMTE, and medical director Daniel Davis, M.D. The criteria serve as a quick and easily understood checklist for emergency clinicians to help them predict a complex tracheal intubation, a procedure which involves inserting a flexible tube into a throat to open the airway.


The HEAVEN Criteria has been published in Prehospital Trauma Life Support (PHTLS) (9th Edition), a textbook for the CE program from the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians in conjunction with the Committee on Trauma of the American College of Surgeons. PHTLS is taught in 64 countries and CE credits are earned by EMTs, paramedics, nurses, physician assistants, physicians, and other prehospital providers.


“Since adopting this analytic tool we have dramatically reduced our incidences of unsuccessful intubations, second-attempt intubations, and seen a dramatic increase in patient oxygenation which all lead to shorter hospital stays, better outcomes and dramatically lower mortality rates,” said Mike Allen, Air Methods’ president and chief operating officer. “Being included in the latest edition of the PHTLS textbook, which is the reference guide to all prehospital trauma care in the western world, is an amazing validation of our team’s professional standards and a clear indication of the respect they have earned across this discipline of medicine.”

Since the introduction of the HEAVEN Criteria in 2015, Air Methods’ clinicians have charted a first-attempt tracheal intubation success rate of greater than 90 percent, which is higher than in many hospital settings. Olvera also recently presented the HEAVEN Criteria at the World Airway Management Meeting, a prestigious medical conference normally reserved to anesthesiologists.


“It is a tremendous personal honor to have the result of our research and countless hours of evaluation and training featured in the leading textbook for practicing emergency medicine clinicians,” said Olvera. “As a clinician, it is also professionally gratifying to have the support of a company that dedicates such resources to developing effective, evidence-based techniques that advance the quality and safety of our care and, most importantly, help save lives.”


The HEAVEN Criteria is part of a greater Rapid Sequence Intubation (RSI) checklist that was created by Olvera and is part of Air Methods’ continued quality improvement process. The inspiration behind the checklist came from Olvera’s personal life when his wife, who was working 80 hours a week as a restaurant manager, accidentally took the wrong medication. Olvera realized that, even with his wife being a diabetic for 28 years, human factors came into play and she made a mistake in drawing up her medication. These mistakes can be attributed to exhaustion, hunger or distraction, all of which can occur when clinicians respond to emergency medical calls. This led to Olvera conducting extensive research and formulating new checklists and criteria.


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