Improving Rural Emergency Medical Service Response Time with Global Positioning System Navigation

The expansive areas that rural emergency medical service (EMS) often serves are unfamiliar to many EMS personnel. Increased EMS response time in rural areas has been suggested as a contributing factor to increased mortality rates from motor vehicle crashes (MVCs) and nontraumatic emergencies. The study purpose was to assess the effect of a global positioning system (GPS) on rural EMS response time. GPS units were placed in a rural EMS provider's ambulances. The units were set for fastest route, rather than shortest distance, to the scene, which depends on traffic lights and posted road speed. During a one year period (September 2006 to August 2007), EMS response time and mileage to the scene were recorded for MVCs and other emergencies. There was then comparison of response times and mileage to the scene with data from the same EMS provider during a similar one year period when GPS technology was not used. Because GPS was infrequently used for short travel distances, EMS calls of less than one mile were removed. During the one year period before GPS utilization, 893 EMS calls of greater than one mile were recorded and 791 calls recorded with GPS. The mean MVC EMS response time was 8.5 minutes without GPS and 7.6 minutes with GPS. Mean EMS response time without GPS was 13.7 minutes versus 9.9 minutes with GPS when MVCs were matched for miles traveled. The authors conclude that GPS technology can significantly improve EMS response time to the scene of MVCs and nontraumatic emergencies.

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  • Authors:
    • Gonzalez, Richard P
    • Cummings, Glenn R
    • Mulekar, Madhuri S
    • Harlan, Shana M
    • Rodning, Charles B
  • Publication Date: 2009-11


  • English

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  • Accession Number: 01145249
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Nov 20 2009 10:04AM