The Safety and Utility of Ground Transport of Traumatic Cardiopulmonary Arrest Patients by Helicopter Emergency Medical Services Crews

Published:January 19, 2021DOI:


      Patients suffering from traumatic cardiopulmonary arrest (TCPA) typically demonstrate dismal survival rates. Some helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) systems transport TCPA patients via ground with a referring agency when cardiopulmonary pulmonary resuscitation is in progress. With expanding research on the inherent risk of ground emergency medical services (GEMS) transport with the use of lights and sirens to both crew and the general public, the benefits may not outweigh the risks of transporting these patients by GEMS. The aim of this study was to determine the number of TCPA patients transported by GEMS with HEMS crews on board who survived to hospital discharge.


      A retrospective chart review was performed of approximately 10 years of data from a regional Midwest HEMS service. Survival to hospital discharge was the primary outcome.


      Flight crews transported 54 patients via ambulance with GEMS crews; 31 patients met all inclusion and exclusion criteria. Of the 31 patients transported, 0 survived to hospital discharge.


      Based on our 0% survival rate and the inherent risk of injury and death to emergency medical services crews and the general public, the risk of transporting adult TCPA patients by GEMS using lights and sirens outweighs the benefit.
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