Trauma ICU Rounds – Airway Management during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Rapid Sequence vs. “Protected” Intubation

Originally posted on Trauma ICU Rounds on April 3, 2020. Follow Trauma ICU Rounds (@traumaicurounds) and Dr. Kim (@dennisyongkim) to learn more on simplifying trauma critical care together.

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RSI or rapid sequence intubation a method of achieving rapid control of the airway while minimizing the risk of regurgitation and aspiration of gastric contents. What this means is that RSI is almost universally required in situations calling for emergent endotracheal intubation and, if you’ve ever been in the trauma bay when a patient has required a definitive airway, RSI was almost certainly employed. Due to the nature of intubation (and extubation!) being an aerosol generating procedure, specific steps and preparation must be undertaken to minimize risks to not just patients during intubation but to us as well.

Learning Objectives

#1 Describe the sequence & steps involved in performing rapid sequence intubation.

#2 Appreciate COVID-19 specific considerations for safely securing a definitive airway

Take Home Points

Pause, think, and prepare BEFORE rushing into a patients’ room to secure a definitive airway


Time Stamps

  • 00:12 Introduction

  • 01:36 Objectives

  • 03:12 What is Rapid Sequence Intubation

  • 04:27 Cricoid pressure: yay or nay?!

  • 05:43 5 Steps & sequence of RSI

  • 06:05 Preparation

  • 14:04 Preoxygenation & Positioning

  • 18:09 Medication administration

  • 19:00 Insertion of ETT and balloon inflation

  • 19:35 Confirmation of placement

Overview of RSI

  1. Preparation for intubation

  2. Pre-oxygenation

  3. Induction of Drug administration

  4. Application of cricoid pressure?

  5. Paralytic administration

  6. ETT insertion

  7. Inflation of ETT balloon

  8. Confirmation of ETT placement

  9. Release of cricoid pressure?

STATICS Mnemonic for Intubation Preparation






Circuit / CO2 detector

Scope / Syringe

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