Objective: Determine whether prehospital advanced life support (ALS) improves the survival of major trauma patients and whether it is associated with longer on-scene times.
Methods: A 36-month retrospective study of all major trauma patients who received either prehospital bag-valve-mask (BVM) or endotracheal intubation (ETI) and were transported by paramedics to our Level I trauma center. Logistic regression analysis determined the association of prehospital ALS with patient survival.
Results: Of 9,451 major trauma patients, 496 (5.3%) had either BVM or ETI. Eighty-one percent received BVM, with a mean Injury Severity Score of 29 and a mortality rate of 67%; 93 patients (19%) underwent successful ETI, with a mean Injury Severity Score of 35 and a mortality rate of 93%. Adjusted survival for patients who had BVM was 5.3 times more likely than for patients who had ETI (95% confidence interval, 2.3-14.2, p = 0.00). Survival among patients who received intravenous fluids was 3.9 times more likely than those who did not (p = not significant). Average on-scene times for patients who had ETI or intravenous fluids were not significantly longer than those who had BVM or no intravenous fluids.
Conclusion: ALS procedures can be performed by paramedics on major trauma patients without prolonging on-scene time, but they do not seem to improve survival.