Objective: The objective of this study is to identify potential problems associated with prehospital advanced airways by assessing the utilization, complications, and education associated with the use of portable suction equipment.
Methods: Fifty-one paramedics serving a university medical center were anonymously surveyed. The survey consisted of questions regarding: utilization, difficulties, bad outcomes, and training associated with portable suction equipment.
Results: Six of the paramedics set up and check suction equip ment for every airway procedure. The rest perform daily checks or rarely test equipment. Twenty-three medics reported equipment malfunctions: dead battery (12), improper set-up (5), clogged tubing (6). Twenty-six of the paramedics reported having at least one bad outcome due to malfunction of suction equipment. These were cases of failed intubation following at least one attempt. Seven bad outcomes were attributed to lack of suction equipment at scene. Paramedics carry suction equipment to the scene for less than twenty-five percent of calls. Three suction units were in use: S-SCORT (32), S-SCORT Jr. (11), and Impact (8). There was no difference in utilization or bad outcomes by unit type. Ninety-eight percent of the paramedics reported some type of formal training on use of suction equipment during airway procedures.