Ground and Helicopter Emergency Medical Services Time Tradeoffs Assessed with Geographic Information.
INTRODUCTION: We describe how geographic information systems (GIS) can be used to assess and compare estimated transport time for helicopter and ground emergency medical services. Recent research shows that while the odds of a trauma patient's survival increase with helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS), they may not increase to the extent necessary to make HEMS cost effective. This study offers an analytic tool to objectively quantify the patient travel time advantage that HEMS offers compared to ground emergency medical services (GEMS). METHODS: Using helicopter dispatch data from the Maryland State Police from 2000-2011, we computed transport time estimates for HEMS and GEMS, compare these results to a reference transport time of 60 min, and use geospatial interpolation to extrapolate the total response times for each mode across the study region. RESULTS: Mapping the region's trauma incidents and modeling response times, our findings indicate the GIS framework for calculating transportation time tradeoffs is useful in identifying which areas can be better served by HEMS or GEMS. DISCUSSION: The use of GIS and the analytical methodology described in this study present a method to compare transportation by air and ground in the prehospital setting that accounts for how mode, distance, and road infrastructure impact total transport time. Whether used to generate regional maps in advance or applied real-time, the presented framework provides a tool to identify earlier incident locations that favor HEMS over GEMS transport modes.
Widener, MJ; Ginsberg, Z; Schleith, D; Floccare, DJ; Hirshon, JM; Galvagno, S
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