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Introduction to the Emergency Airway

Where to begin & how to build a successful strategy


All Journeys Need a Beginning

I wanted to offer something to those who are just starting out on their emergency airway journey. My own airway training was uneven at best. Sometimes I got it right; sometimes I had to learn things the hard way. Looking back at that journey is what made me want to create a better path for those who come after me. A path that helps to amplify your abilities by taking an honest look at our strengths and weaknesses as human beings, and as clinicians so that we can design learning around the concepts and skills that will help us transcend our limits.

For those of us who teach emergency airway, I believe the goal is to build more effective training tools as the guardrails that protect our patients from harm. This is how the Protected Airway came into being. The idea of Protected Airway training as a concept continues to evolve and grow. It has become a collaborative effort by an amazing team of dedicated educators, but we all do this for one reason: we want you to be better than we were.

  • Jonathan St George MD
  • Creator of the Protected Airway Course


How to use these modules

To begin, read the “letters” first. They provide a personal perspective on emergency airway training, and set the stage for the multimedia content that comes after. This module is an abbreviated version of some of the concepts we teach at the course. It is designed to give you a place to start so you can begin building your own conceptual framework, so you can put the skills you learn later into a more meaningful context. It will help you on your way. Enjoy the journey.


A letter to the airway learner – where to begin


Lesson #1 Prioritizing Oxygenation

The ability to successfully oxygenate your patient in any situation is by far the most useful and important skill in the lexicon of emergency airway. While the ability to intubate is often considered to be the apex of emergency airway management, what really that stands between your patient and the deadly consequences of respiratory failure is how well you are able to oxygenate them. To do this you will need more than just intubation prowess. You will need a toolbox of airway “lifelines” along with a set of core concepts, cognitive tools, and optimization techniques that you can confidently deploy under stress. Here we introduce you to some of the ones we think you should have in your toolbox.

The ability to oxygenate any patient is the most important skill in emergency airway training.

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Lesson #2 The Head of the Bed

This second lesson is about helping you to gain airway opportunities. As an intern, I wanted any chance to be at the head of the bed, but to get there you need to know the basics. Learn what is required to be successful in the role, and you will begin to feel more comfortable in the airway operators home base. The more comfortable you are, the more opportunities you will get.

Learn to feel comfortable in the airway operators home base

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The head of the bed is a critical space within the resuscitation bay. Here you have one primary goal, and it is not to perform intubation, but to protect your patient from the consequences of respiratory failure and hypoxia. To do this you need to be comfortable using all three upper airway lifelines; and with the concepts of safe apnea time and RSI. You need to be able to come up with a plan to secure the airway while preparing your patient and your equipment and communicating with your team. Here are a few lessons to help you begin to feel more confident in this vital space at the head of the bed.. 


What Comes Next?

Six learning installations, one goal

Better Airway Training

join the oxygenation
own the head of the bed
Anatomically difficult
Physiologically difficult
Situationally difficult
Pediatric airway

The Protected Airway Course

Immersive, Interactive, Self-Directed, Collaborative

Coming Soon!

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