Objective: To determine the utility of air medical transport in a large urban environment.
Methods: The authors conducted a retrospective analysis of all air medical transports of patients in the Fire Department of the City of New York EMS (emergency medical services) Command for the period of January 1, 1996, to December 31, 1999. These data were evaluated for frequency of air medical transport, patient condition at time of flight, and necessity of air evacuation.
Results: During the study period, some form of air medical transport was used 182 times. Of this number, 32 were for transports of patients from a scene of an incident to a hospital within New York City; 18 for interfacility transport of patients from a hospital facility within New York City to another facility within New York City; 122 for interfacility transfers of patients from medical facilities outside of the New York City area to a facility in New York City; and ten for transport of patients from New York City medical facilities to facilities out of the area.
Conclusion: The Fire Department of the City of New York EMS Command utilizes air medical evacuation for patient transports very infrequently. The parameters of New York City's large urban environment may not be conducive to air medical transport. These data seem to be consistent with experiences of other large urban cities.