Rapid Response Linked To Car Accident Survival Rate


When a person is in a traumatic car accident, every minute counts. The sooner they can be put into the hands of a trained medical team, the higher their chance is of survival. This time after the traumatic event is referred to in the medical community as the “golden hour”, the time in which life and death hang in a delicate balance.

John Hopkins Study On Emergency Response Time
There have been many studies on the effect of emergency response time to the survival rate of victims. Unfortunately, many of these studies have not taken into account the seriousness of the injuries, comparing broken legs with cardiac arrests. A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in April 2012 actually took the level of injury into account, making it a true study of how response times affect survival.

The study looked at the difference between helicopter versus ground emergency response in patients requiring a level 1 or a level 2 trauma center. Since the air response is much quicker, both to the scene and to transport back to the medical center, the idea was to see the difference that time made in survival. The study analyzed over 700,000 patients 15-years or older and their survival rates after being ground transported or airlifted to a trauma center.

  • Survival for the level 1 trauma centers was 16% with air transport
  • Survival for the level 2 trauma centers was 15% with air transport

Unfortunately, even with the study information, helicopter response teams are much more expensive than ground crews, thus they may not be utilized as often as they should.

The “Golden Hour”
When a person is in a serious car accident, the response time by emergency services can be a matter of life and death. That precious hour after sustaining life threatening injuries is when they hang in the balance, waiting for the medical treatment that will medical treatment that will ultimately decide their fate.

For instance, in the case of cardiac arrest, every second counts in an emergency situation. If the heart is shocked with a defibrillator within the first 5 minutes, their chance of survival increases. Since most response times are much higher than that by medical emergency crews, many people die in those few precious minutes.

An example of how local authorities can make a difference is apparent in the case of Rochester, MN, home of the Mayo Clinic. They realized the need to save cardiac arrest victims and decided to give police officers, often the first response people on the scene, defibrillators. In 12 years, 37 of 73 cardiac arrest victims were first shocked by police officers. By doing this, they raised their cardiac arrest survival rate from 30% to 44%, one of the highest in the nation.

The importance of emergency medical care is crucial to every town and city. Increased response times can make all the difference, whether it is by using helicopters or thinking outside the box like Rochester city officials did. Each second counts and many lives are in the hands of these services.

The above blog was prepared by Chicago car accident attorney Jonathan Rosenfeld of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers.

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers
33 North Dearborn Street, #1930
Chicago, IL 60602
(803) 454-1200

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