The airway or more specifically, the need to secure an airway in a potentially unwell/unstable patient is a phenomenon which unites all doctors who work in critical care. In fact, it’s one of those things that ‘makes us critical care’, to channel the great Weingart. Whether it’s on the field, in a helicopter, in the Emergency Department, the Operating Theatre or the Intensive Care Unit; being comfortable with managing a patient’s airway is a quintessential skill. Having a sound strategy is the key and the opportunity to perfectly practice this makes perfect.
A new course in Melbourne, Australia that started last year encourages and helps participants to achieve both. I had the opportunity to go last year and wanted to share my thoughts on the Airway Course for Critical Care and Emergency or ACE for short. To speak frankly, it’s a pretty slick operation (no pun intended at the time of writing, happy accident) especially for a course just entering its second year. Organised by Western Health anaesthetist, Dr Adriano Cocciante, this one-day workshop features of suite of doctors working in critical care including emergency physicians, intensivists and anaesthetists. One admirable aspect of the course was that it wasn’t an airway course run by anaesthetists for everyone else but rather an airway course run by doctors across the critical care spectrum for all comers. They all use a suggested algorithm based on the DAS difficult airway algorithm, which is great (although note the ‘wake the patient up’ is not usually an option for ED intubators). All the facilitators were friendly, approachable and keen to share their knowledge with the participants. The course involves six modules ranging from the focused airway exam (getting the essentials right) to practical airway skills (lots of toys) to high fidelity simulation (practice drills). With a medical education hat on, the curriculum design is excellent and has been well thought out for the intended participants. The modules all come back to their algorithm meaning there’s plenty of reinforcement of key themes throughout the day. The end result was a group of participants from numerous backgrounds and airway experience walking away with worthwhile experience as well as a greater degree of comfort and respect for the airway. The catering was pretty decent too.
So if you’re around in Melbourne come July and want to learn something new or put your existing airway skills into practice, give the ACE course a go.
The Airway Course for Critical Care and Emergency will be held this year on July 19th. Registration opens soon. Details can be found here. ACE is accredited by ACEM and CICM.