Introduction: Ground transport from a remote helipad at a trauma center may delay patient arrival in the ED and affect patient morbidity and mortality. Prehospital care providers must be aware of the magnitude of any delay when selecting the most expedient means of transport for trauma patients. This study quantifies the time required for a 0.6-mile ground transport from a remote trauma center helipad to an ED through two traffic signals along one city street.
Methods: The trauma registry was queried for all patients transported directly from the scene to the regional trauma center by helicopter between January 1993 and October 1996. Prehospital records were used to supplement missing time data; patients with incomplete data were excluded. Ground transport time was calculated by subtracting the time that the helicopter arrived at the remote helipad from the time the ambulance arrived at the ED. Mean ground transport time and standard deviation were calculated.
Results: Three-hundred-eighty-nine trauma patients were transported directly from the scene to the regional trauma center by helicopter. Complete data were available for 345 patients (89%). Mean ground transport time was 5.2 +/- 2.3 minutes.
Conclusion: The need for ground ambulance transport from this remotely located trauma center helipad adds more than 5 minutes to total prehospital time. This delay in ED arrival may be significant for some patients and should be taken into account when selecting the most appropriate mechanism of patient transport and planning helipad construction.