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JOURNAL ARTICLE

A Study on the Tactical Safety of Endotracheal Intubation Under Darkness

Sedat Bilge, Attila Aydin, Meltem Bilge, Cemile Aydin, Erdem Cevik, Mehmet Eryilmaz
Military Medicine 2017, 182 (7): e1722-e1725
28810964

OBJECTIVE: Strict blackout discipline is extremely important for all military units. To be able to effectively determine wound characteristics and perform the necessary interventions at nighttime, vision and light restrictions can be mitigated through the use of tactical night vision goggles (NVGs). The lamp of the classical laryngoscope (CL) can be seen with the naked eye; infrared light, on the other hand, cannot be perceived without the use of NVGs. The aim of the study is to evaluate the safety of endotracheal intubation (ETI) procedures in the dark under tactically safe conditions with modified laryngoscope (ML) model.

METHODS: We developed an ML model by changing the standard lamp on a CL with an infrared light-emitting diode lamp to obtain a tool which can be used to perform ETI under night conditions in combination with NVGs. We first evaluated the safety of ETI procedures in prehospital conditions under darkness by using both the CL and the ML for the study, and then researched the procedures and methods by which ETI procedure could be performed in the dark under tactically safe conditions. In addition, to better ensure light discipline in the field of combat, we also researched the benefits, from a light discipline standpoint, of using the poncho liner (PL) and of taking advantage of the oropharyngeal region during ETIs performed by opening the laryngoscope blades directly in the mouth and using a cover. During the ETI procedures performed on the field, two experienced combatant staff simulated the enemy by determining whether the light from the two different types of laryngoscope could be seen at 100-m intervals up to 1,500 m.

RESULTS: In all scenarios, performing observations with an NVG was more advantageous for the enemy than with the naked eye. The best measure that can be taken against this threat by the paramedic is to ensure tactical safety by having an ML and by opening the ML inside the mouth with the aid of a PL. The findings of the study are likely to shed light on the tactical safety of ETI performed with NVGs under darkness.

CONCLUSION: Considering this finding, we still strongly recommend that it would be relatively safer to open the ML blade inside the mouth and to perform the procedures under a PL. In chaotic environments where it might become necessary to provide civilian health services for humanitarian aid purposes (Red Crescent, Red Cross, etc.) without NVGs, we believe that it would be relatively safer to open the CL blade inside the mouth and to perform the procedures under a PL.

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