LANSING, Mich. (WILX) – For the millions of Americans who live in rural areas, there are benefits to being away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s quiet, it’s clean and you may have some space between you and your neighbors.
However, about 25% of all Americans live more than an hour away from a trauma center by helicopter.
A car crash, bike accident, sports collision – they all can cause serious injuries that may need specialized medical attention. For emergency medical crews in rural areas, it’s a tough call.
“One is to drive them to their local community hospital that’s not a trauma center,” said Dr. Joshua Brown. “The other is to call for a medical helicopter to transport to trauma center.”
Brown and his colleagues studies the outcomes of 37,000 severely injured patients transported to emergency rooms by helicopter or ambulance. The research shows short stops at local hospitals first hurt some patients, since trauma surgeons lost valuable time.
“In trauma, we always talk about this golden hour from the time of injury to getting to the trauma center,” Brown said. “The patients brought directly to the trauma center had almost a twofold increase in their survival as a result of getting to that trauma center earlier.”
The findings support medical crews in rural areas calling for a helicopter if patients have abnormal vital signs or altered mental state, spinal cord injuries or severe chest trauma with a possible collapsed lung.
“Being able to give them this set of criteria can really help them make a huge difference in the patient’s outcomes,” Brown said.
Brown is working with the American College of Surgeons to develop triage guidelines for emergency responders. He and his colleagues are also working with EMS physician groups across the country to get information to first responders.
More: Your Health
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