Can body temperature be maintained during aeromedical transport?

Sunil M. Sookram, Samantha Barker, Karen D. Kelly, William Patton, Terry Sosnowski, Kevin Neilson, Brian H. Rowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Aeromedical transport in northern areas may be associated with hypothermia. The objective of this study was to determine whether significant hypothermia (core temperature <35°C) occurs in severely injured or ill intubated patients during transport by rotary wing aircraft. Methods: In this prospective cohort study, all intubated patients over 16 years of age who were transported by rotary wing aircraft from rural hospitals or trauma scenes in northern Alberta to regional hospitals in Edmonton were eligible for study. Esophageal thermometers were used to measure core temperature at 10-minute intervals during transport. Results: Of 133 potentially eligible patients, 116 were enrolled; 69 (59%) had esophageal thermometers inserted, and 47 (41%) had other temperature measurements. Severe hypothermia occurred in only 1% to 2% of cases, but 28% to 39% of patients met criteria for mild hypothermia prior to transport. Core temperatures did not fall during transport, despite the fact that warming techniques were documented in only 38% of cases. Conclusions: During brief (<225 km) rotary wing aeromedical transport of severely injured or ill patients, significant hypothermia is uncommon and body temperature is generally well maintained with the use of simple passive measures. These findings do not justify recommendations for more aggressive core temperature monitoring during this type of aeromedical transport.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)172-177
Number of pages6
JournalCanadian Journal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Air ambulance
  • Emergency medical services system
  • Hypothermia
  • Transportation of patients
  • Trauma


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