The effect of air medical transport on survival after trauma in Johannesburg, South Africa

S Afr Med J. 2002 Oct;92(10):807-11.


Objectives: To assess the difference in survival of trauma patients transported to a trauma unit via either road or air in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Design: Prospective database analysis.

Setting: Multicentre study utilising two trauma units.

Subjects: The study evaluated 428 subjects admitted to the two sites.

Outcome measures: Actual survival rates in each group (road and air) were compared with the predicted survival rates.

Results: In the road group, 38.96 people were predicted to die and 51 actually died, therefore 23.61% (or 12.04 people) died 'unnecessarily', i.e. they died after having been predicted to live. In the helicopter group, 38.15 people were predicted to die and 39 actually died, therefore 0.85 (39-38.15) people were not expected to die. The 0.85 people represent 2.18% (0.85/39) of the total number of dead in the helicopter group who died 'unnecessarily'. Therefore one could argue that introduction of helicopter transport reduces the number of dead by 21.43% (23.61-2.18).

Conclusions: Patients with a certain injury severity are more likely to survive if transported by air to a trauma unit.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Air Ambulances / standards*
  • Ambulances / standards
  • Emergency Medical Services / methods*
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Logistic Models
  • Multiple Trauma / mortality*
  • Multiple Trauma / therapy*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • South Africa / epidemiology
  • Survival Analysis
  • Survival Rate
  • Transportation of Patients / methods*
  • Trauma Centers
  • Trauma Severity Indices
  • Urban Health Services / standards*