Rapid ground transport of trauma patients: a moderate distance from trauma center improves survival

Bryce N. Taylor, Niki Rasnake, Kelly McNutt, C. Lindsay McKnight, Brian Daley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: There is debate within the emergency medical services (EMS) community over the value of calling a helicopter for trauma patients within a moderate distance/<45 min, of a trauma center. Helicopter EMS (HEMS) generally have a wider scope and more advanced training than the ground EMS (GEMS). GEMS, on the other hand, have the benefit of being able to immediately initiate rapid transport to the trauma center without the delay involved with HEMS flying to the scene, landing, and assuming patient care. Methods: We retrospectively analyzed patients brought to a level I trauma center who were admitted with blunt traumatic injuries between 2010 and 2015 in the Trauma Quality Improvement Program database. Two analyses were performed, one in which the patient's reported initial scene vitals met criteria for step one of the Centers for Disease Control's 2011 National Field Triage Guidelines (NFTG) and the other in which the patient's initial scene vitals met those same guidelines and/or had a pulse greater than 110 beats per minute. Patients were categorized on scene to emergency department (ED) transport mode, either HEMS or GEMS. Inclusion criteria were a HEMS response time to the scene that was between 15 and 45 min with a transport time from the scene to the ED that was between 10 and 35 min or a GEMS transport time from the scene to the ED that was between 15 and 45 min. Statistical significance (P < 0.05) was established through logit regression. Mortality rates were then calculated within each transport mode–based population. Results: Four hundred subjects were included in the analysis of patients meeting the first step of the NFTG, with 212 HEMS patients and 188 in the GEMS group. HEMS had a higher mortality rate at 0.184 and GEMS at 0.101, which was statistically significant (P = 0.019). When 606 subjects meeting the first step of the NFTG or with a pulse greater than 110 beats per minute were analyzed, the results were statistically significant (P < 0.001), with the HEMS category having a higher mortality rate at 0.154 and the GEMS category having a lower mortality at 0.056. Conclusions: Our data demonstrate that scene-to-ED time is paramount, and rapid ground transport should be used in blunt trauma patients when the scene is up to a moderate ground distance away from the trauma center and there would be a moderate-to-prolonged HEMS response time. In both analyses, hemodynamically unstable trauma patients had lower rates of mortality following ground transport. We recognize that there may be a subset of patients at these distances who could benefit from HEMS response, particularly if the flight crew can offer more advanced and specialized techniques; however, every effort should be made to minimize the scene-to-ED time, and HEMS response, scene, and transport time must be considered. This study only analyzed the patients within a moderate distance of the trauma center and at longer distances or in different environments; HEMS transport may indeed minimize the scene to ED time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)318-324
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Volume232
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

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Aircraft
Trauma Centers
Survival
Wounds and Injuries
Hospital Emergency Service
Triage
Emergency Medical Services
Mortality
Guidelines
Reaction Time
Air Ambulances
Nonpenetrating Wounds
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S.)
Quality Improvement
Patient Care
Databases

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery

Cite this

Rapid ground transport of trauma patients : a moderate distance from trauma center improves survival. / Taylor, Bryce N.; Rasnake, Niki; McNutt, Kelly; McKnight, C. Lindsay; Daley, Brian.

In: Journal of Surgical Research, Vol. 232, 01.12.2018, p. 318-324.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Taylor, Bryce N. ; Rasnake, Niki ; McNutt, Kelly ; McKnight, C. Lindsay ; Daley, Brian. / Rapid ground transport of trauma patients : a moderate distance from trauma center improves survival. In: Journal of Surgical Research. 2018 ; Vol. 232. pp. 318-324.
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abstract = "Background: There is debate within the emergency medical services (EMS) community over the value of calling a helicopter for trauma patients within a moderate distance/<45 min, of a trauma center. Helicopter EMS (HEMS) generally have a wider scope and more advanced training than the ground EMS (GEMS). GEMS, on the other hand, have the benefit of being able to immediately initiate rapid transport to the trauma center without the delay involved with HEMS flying to the scene, landing, and assuming patient care. Methods: We retrospectively analyzed patients brought to a level I trauma center who were admitted with blunt traumatic injuries between 2010 and 2015 in the Trauma Quality Improvement Program database. Two analyses were performed, one in which the patient's reported initial scene vitals met criteria for step one of the Centers for Disease Control's 2011 National Field Triage Guidelines (NFTG) and the other in which the patient's initial scene vitals met those same guidelines and/or had a pulse greater than 110 beats per minute. Patients were categorized on scene to emergency department (ED) transport mode, either HEMS or GEMS. Inclusion criteria were a HEMS response time to the scene that was between 15 and 45 min with a transport time from the scene to the ED that was between 10 and 35 min or a GEMS transport time from the scene to the ED that was between 15 and 45 min. Statistical significance (P < 0.05) was established through logit regression. Mortality rates were then calculated within each transport mode–based population. Results: Four hundred subjects were included in the analysis of patients meeting the first step of the NFTG, with 212 HEMS patients and 188 in the GEMS group. HEMS had a higher mortality rate at 0.184 and GEMS at 0.101, which was statistically significant (P = 0.019). When 606 subjects meeting the first step of the NFTG or with a pulse greater than 110 beats per minute were analyzed, the results were statistically significant (P < 0.001), with the HEMS category having a higher mortality rate at 0.154 and the GEMS category having a lower mortality at 0.056. Conclusions: Our data demonstrate that scene-to-ED time is paramount, and rapid ground transport should be used in blunt trauma patients when the scene is up to a moderate ground distance away from the trauma center and there would be a moderate-to-prolonged HEMS response time. In both analyses, hemodynamically unstable trauma patients had lower rates of mortality following ground transport. We recognize that there may be a subset of patients at these distances who could benefit from HEMS response, particularly if the flight crew can offer more advanced and specialized techniques; however, every effort should be made to minimize the scene-to-ED time, and HEMS response, scene, and transport time must be considered. This study only analyzed the patients within a moderate distance of the trauma center and at longer distances or in different environments; HEMS transport may indeed minimize the scene to ED time.",
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T2 - a moderate distance from trauma center improves survival

AU - Taylor, Bryce N.

AU - Rasnake, Niki

AU - McNutt, Kelly

AU - McKnight, C. Lindsay

AU - Daley, Brian

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N2 - Background: There is debate within the emergency medical services (EMS) community over the value of calling a helicopter for trauma patients within a moderate distance/<45 min, of a trauma center. Helicopter EMS (HEMS) generally have a wider scope and more advanced training than the ground EMS (GEMS). GEMS, on the other hand, have the benefit of being able to immediately initiate rapid transport to the trauma center without the delay involved with HEMS flying to the scene, landing, and assuming patient care. Methods: We retrospectively analyzed patients brought to a level I trauma center who were admitted with blunt traumatic injuries between 2010 and 2015 in the Trauma Quality Improvement Program database. Two analyses were performed, one in which the patient's reported initial scene vitals met criteria for step one of the Centers for Disease Control's 2011 National Field Triage Guidelines (NFTG) and the other in which the patient's initial scene vitals met those same guidelines and/or had a pulse greater than 110 beats per minute. Patients were categorized on scene to emergency department (ED) transport mode, either HEMS or GEMS. Inclusion criteria were a HEMS response time to the scene that was between 15 and 45 min with a transport time from the scene to the ED that was between 10 and 35 min or a GEMS transport time from the scene to the ED that was between 15 and 45 min. Statistical significance (P < 0.05) was established through logit regression. Mortality rates were then calculated within each transport mode–based population. Results: Four hundred subjects were included in the analysis of patients meeting the first step of the NFTG, with 212 HEMS patients and 188 in the GEMS group. HEMS had a higher mortality rate at 0.184 and GEMS at 0.101, which was statistically significant (P = 0.019). When 606 subjects meeting the first step of the NFTG or with a pulse greater than 110 beats per minute were analyzed, the results were statistically significant (P < 0.001), with the HEMS category having a higher mortality rate at 0.154 and the GEMS category having a lower mortality at 0.056. Conclusions: Our data demonstrate that scene-to-ED time is paramount, and rapid ground transport should be used in blunt trauma patients when the scene is up to a moderate ground distance away from the trauma center and there would be a moderate-to-prolonged HEMS response time. In both analyses, hemodynamically unstable trauma patients had lower rates of mortality following ground transport. We recognize that there may be a subset of patients at these distances who could benefit from HEMS response, particularly if the flight crew can offer more advanced and specialized techniques; however, every effort should be made to minimize the scene-to-ED time, and HEMS response, scene, and transport time must be considered. This study only analyzed the patients within a moderate distance of the trauma center and at longer distances or in different environments; HEMS transport may indeed minimize the scene to ED time.

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