INTRODUCTION Endotracheal intubation (ETI) is the most widespread method for emergency airway management. Several studies reported that ETI requires considerable skill and experience and if performed incorrectly, may result in serious adverse events. Unrecognized tube misplacement or oesophageal intubation is associated with high prehospital morbidity. This study investigates the usability of supraglottic airway devices compared to ETI and the skill retention of 41 previously inexperienced paramedics following training using a manikin model. METHODS 41 paramedics participated in this study. None had prior experience in airway management, apart from bag-valve ventilation. After a standardised audio-visual lecture lasting 45min, the paramedics participated in a practical demonstration using the advanced patient simulator SimMan(®) (Laerdal Medical, Stavanger, Norway). Afterwards, paramedics were instructed to perform airway-management using seven different techniques to secure the airway (ETI, Laryngeal mask unique [LMA], Proseal, Laryngeal tube disposable [LT-D(®)], I-Gel(®), Combitube(®), and EasyTube(®)) following a randomized sequence. Participants underwent reassessment after 3 months without any further training or practice in airway-management. RESULTS During the initial training session, ETI was successfully performed in 78% of cases, while 3 months later the success rate was 58%. For the supraglottic airway devices, five out of six were successfully used by all paramedics at both time points, the exception being Proseal(®). Our data show successful skill retention (success rate: 100%) after 3 months for five out of six supraglottic airway devices. Time to ventilation (T3) was significantly less for LMA, LT-D(®) and I-Gel(®) at all time points compared to ETI. CONCLUSION ETI performed by inexperienced paramedics is associated with a low success rate. In contrast, supraglottic airway devices like LMA, LT-D(®), I-Gel(®), Combitube(®) and EasyTube(®) are fast, safe and easy-to-use. Within the limitations of a manikin-study, this study suggests that inexperienced medical staff might benefit from using supraglottic airway devices for emergency airway management.