Background: Trauma is the third leading cause of death worldwide and the most common cause of death among people aged 1-44 years. In Saudi Arabia, traumatic injuries cause one death and four injuries every hour, but survival rates have improved owing to improvements in pre-hospital care processes.
Methodology: This retrospective study conducted in King Abdulaziz Medical City (KAMC), Emergency Medicine Department, included data taken from KAMC trauma registry, QuadraMed®, and patients' files. Injury Severity Score (ISS) was used to assess the severity of trauma. We included individuals of both sexes with ISS of ≥9 and aged ≥15 years with different types and mechanisms of injury.
Results: Overall, 335 patients (123 transported by helicopter and 212 transported by ground ambulance) were included. The mean ISS for helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) and ground emergency medical services (GEMS) patients was 20.80 and 19.74, respectively. All HEMS patients had blunt trauma. For GEMS patients, 94.8% had blunt trauma and 5.2% penetrating trauma. Around 81.1% of GEMS patients went home and 18.9% died in hospital. For HEMS patients, 79.7% went home, 14.6% died, and 5.7% were transferred to other hospitals. The mean of length stay among HEMS patients was 46.18 days, whereas it was 44.59 days among GEMS patients.
Conclusion: This study suggests that HEMS is associated with a higher survival rate for severe trauma patients than GEMS. However, HEMS patients had a longer length of stay in hospital than GEMS patients.
Key words: Emergency medical services, pre-hospital, trauma, helicopter, ambulance