A lot of the time the news that is reported about air ambulances only focuses on the negative, especially when there is an accident. But air ambulance accidents represent only a fraction of all flights conducted by air ambulance companies. And now a new study backs up what the air ambulance industry has been insisting for decades: An air ambulance trip is as safe, if not safer than riding in a ground ambulance.
The study, conducted by the "Canadian Journal of Surgery" earlier this year actually recommends air ambulance services over ground ambulances, when it makes sense to take the former over the latter. The study found that patients who use air ambulances have a better opportunity to survive a traumatic injury over people who are transported to hospitals using ground ambulances.
This finding is especially beneficial to the air ambulance community because of the fact that most patients served by air ambulances have more severe injuries than patients typically transported via traditional ambulances. Additionally air ambulance patients usually have more pressing needs and health concerns (like organ transplant needs) that have to be monitored compared to typical ground ambulance patients.
The Journal’s study on the effectiveness of all ambulance types was preformed over a decade period. Researches from the Departments of Surgery at the Columbus Regional Hospital joined forces with Atlanta Medical Center staff, Emory University and the University of Calgary for the study.
The study looked at several key factors in determining its findings. First injuries were compared. Also surgeries and the outcomes of patients who were transported to hospitals by both air and ground ambulances was studied. After 10 years of research the study found that there was a higher rate of survival at hospitals by patients who were brought in via air ambulances. The results were heavily in favor of air ambulances. The number of patients who died in the emergency room that were transported in traditional ground ambulances was 585. Only 43 patients who were brought to hospitals via air ambulances died during the same 10 year period.
The study also looked at why there was such a large disparity in survival rates. Researches from the study note that patients were more likely to survive after being transported via air ambulances because air ambulances are equipped with more advanced monitoring equipment and better medication services. The study also found that having a trained medical staff like a flight nurse and paramedic on air ambulances was also a major factor in survival rates.
This study is a major development in the debate over ground versus air ambulances. The authors of this study also factor in cost and state, "The improved outcomes in our study indicate that appropriate helicopter transport, even with the associated cost and safety risk, is beneficial to severely injured patients."
The study is very important for people who live in remote locations or rural areas. The study is also good news for people who travel to countries with poor health care services. In most of these cases people who visit or live in these areas have a higher mortality rate because it is harder to get help quickly in dire circumstances. Knowing the track record of air ambulance survival rate and educating people in these situations will go a long way to save lives. Typically air ambulances can be en route to a location within several hours meaning people who are more comfortable and educated about how they can help will have their chances of survival improve dramatically.