According to an article on, airway management is a task well suited to an algorithmic (“if you find this, then you do that”) approach, as there are many options, maneuvers, and tools available for use by prehospital providers.

The following factors, from simplest to most complex, may be helpful to consider when developing an algorithm for airway management:

  • The starting point for any airway management algorithm is an accurate assessment of the patient’s airway status and the identification of any potential airway complications.
  • Another component of the initial airway assessment is the identification of potential airway management challenges.
  • The final component of the primary assessment is gathering and preparing appropriate equipment for airway management.
  • Occurring concurrently with the assessment of airway status is the evaluation of the need for supplemental oxygenation. Hypoxia must be identified quickly and steps taken to adequately oxygenate the patient.
  • Patient positioning is the most basic but perhaps the most important aspect of effective airway management.
  • The next step in airway management is identifying the need for suctioning by listening for gurgling sounds during breathing.
  • Once the patient is positioned appropriately and a patent airway has been achieved, a BLS airway adjunct can be inserted.
  • The placement of an advanced airway can occur after a BLS airway is established.
  • Making an appropriate transport decision is critical when treating a patient with airway compromise.