Helicopter emergency medical services for adults with major trauma

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An accurate composite estimate of the benefit of helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) could not be determined using the evidence identified in this review. The question of which elements of HEMS are most beneficial for patients has not been fully answered, and any HEMS-associated benefit could be the result of some combination of crew expertise, decreased prehospital time, and the fact that HEMS are an integral part of organized trauma systems in many developed countries. HEMS-associated benefits may include physician adjudicated launching criteria based on severity injury and mechanism, centrally coordinated launching algorithms with selected HEMS deployment, trauma volumes at receiving trauma centres, and the ability of the helicopter to transport patients in areas inaccessible by ground vehicles or prohibitively distant from trauma centres. This review stresses the importance of triage criteria since the benefits of HEMS may be greatest for patients with serious but potentially survivable injuries. Ideal dispatch criteria and triage guidelines to ensure the efficient use of helicopters remain elusive.

Although helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) transport are presently an integral part of trauma systems in most developed nations, previous reviews and studies to date have raised questions about which groups of traumatically injured patients derive the greatest benefit. This review assessed whether helicopter emergency medical services transport (HEMS) was associated with improved morbidity and mortality, compared to ground emergency medical services transport (GEMS), for adults with major trauma.

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