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Evolution of military evacuation activity in French Guiana over 10 years: a retrospective observational study
  1. Valentin Vial1,
  2. G Egmann2,
  3. D Jost3,
  4. C Ilcinkas4,
  5. C Manot5,
  6. P-M Astrié4,
  7. K Arrivé4,
  8. S Travers1 and
  9. N André6
  1. 1 Paris Fire Brigade, French Military Health Service, Paris, France
  2. 2 Health and medical rescue service, Departmental Fire and Rescue Service, Cayenne, French Guiana, France
  3. 3 Department of emergency medicine, Paris Fire Brigade, Paris, France
  4. 4 Cayenne Medical Unit, French Military Health Service, Cayenne, French Guiana, France
  5. 5 French Naval Action Force, French Military Health Service, Toulon, France
  6. 6 Joint Health Service Directorate of French Guiana, French Military Health Service, Cayenne, French Guiana, France
  1. Correspondence to Dr Valentin Vial, Paris Fire Brigade, Paris 75013, France; valentin.vial{at}


Background Three permanent military operations are established in French Guiana. The Cayenne medical unit is a French military search and rescue unit and provides MEDEVAC and CASEVAC for ill and injured soldiers. The main objective of this study was to describe the temporal trends of its evacuation missions over 10 years. The secondary purpose was to document the means used for these missions.

Methods This retrospective observational study included patients who were evacuated for a medical reason or an injury during military operations in French Guiana. We collected the data from the computerised registers the medical department had stored.

Results From 1 January 2010 to 31 December 2019, 1070 patients were included, representing a median annual incidence of 115 (IQR 91–122) evacuations. Of these, 602 (59%) were evacuated by helicopter, 214 (21%) by airplane, 182 (18%) by ambulance and 19 (2%) by pirogue.

Reasons for evacuation were diseases in 664 (62%) patients, non-battle injuries in 389 (36%) patients and battle injuries in 17 (2%) patients. Finally, 286 (29%) evacuations were MEDEVAC and 712 (71%) were CASEVAC.

Over the years, the increasing number of evacuations reached a maximum of 183 in 2018. Helicopter evacuations, once the primary mode of evacuation, have declined proportionately in favour of other means of evacuation.

Conclusion Evacuation missions by the Cayenne medical unit increased over the 10-year study period, while helicopter use decreased. This evolution is a response to the constraints of adapting military operations to fight against illegal gold mining in the Amazonian Forest. Improvement of the means and procedures allows provision of the best care to patients while ensuring the ongoing conduct of military operations.

  • accident & emergency medicine
  • adult intensive & critical care
  • tropical medicine
  • aviation medicine

Data availability statement

No data are available.

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  • Contributors VV acts as guarantor of the work.VV, NA and GE performed the literature search. VV, NA, GE and DJ designed the study. VV and NA collected the data. VV, NA and DJ analysed the data. VV, NA, GE and DJ interpreted the data. VV and NA supervised the study. VV, NA, GE and DJ were involved in writing the paper. GE, DJ, CI, P-MA, KA, CM, ST and NA were involved in proofreading the paper. VV and DJ were involved in rewriting the paper after reviewing.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.