- One of most stressful situations for a physician occurs when a patient is unable to breathe and endotracheal intubation is not possible. The establishment of an open airway by surgery is indicated only if the physician is unable to do so with an endotracheal tube. Surgical tracheostomy is not indicated in emergency situations because it takes a long time and can result in death if respiratory support cannot be provided during the procedure. Percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy in experienced hands takes only a few minutes. We describe six patients, including two trauma patients, in whom emergency percutaneous tracheostomy was rapidly and successfully performed under conditions of the imminent loss of airway and inability to intubate the patient. As this procedure is safe and can be performed easily by experienced personnel, we propose its addition to the armamentarium of emergency airway management.