Speed is not everything: Identifying patients who may benefit from helicopter transport despite faster ground transport

Helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) have been found by researchers to offer survival benefits to patients when compared to ground emergency medical services (GEMS). Most often, this is thought to be due to the faster speed of HEMS transport; however, other factors may play a role, such as provider experience and level of care. Prehospital interventions such as advanced airway management and blood product transfusion may be offered by HEMS crews, but may not be available with GEMS. In this article, the authors explore whether some patient groups may benefit more from HEMS than GEMS even in cases where ground transport is faster than helicopter transport. The study's subjects, selected from the Pennsylvania state trauma registry, were patients 16 years and older who had been transported from the scene of injury either by HEMS or advanced life support GEMS between January 1, 2000 and June 20, 2013. The results of the study show that, even when GEMS transport is faster than HEMS, patients with abnormal prehospital respiratory rate, Glasgow Coma Scale score of 8 or less, and hemothorax or pneumothorax benefit more from HEMS transport. The authors' findings may indicate HEMS services such as advanced airway and chest trauma management may be of greater value to patients than faster ground transport.


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  • Accession Number: 01683917
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Apr 13 2018 2:36PM