The role of physician staffing of helicopter emergency medical services in prehospital trauma response

Emerg Med Australas. 2004 Aug;16(4):318-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-6723.2004.00636.x.


The crewing of Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) for scene response to trauma patients is generally considered to be controversial, particularly regarding the role of physicians. This is reflected in HEMS in Australia with some services utilizing physician crewing for all prehospital missions. Others however, use physicians for selected missions only whilst others do not use physicians at all. This review seeks to determine whether the literature supports using physicians in addition to paramedics in HEMS teams for prehospital trauma care. Studies were excluded if they compared physician teams with basic life support teams (BLS) teams rather than paramedics. Ambulance officers were considered to be paramedics where they were able to administer intravenous fluids and use a method of airway management beyond bag-valve-mask ventilation. Studies were excluded if the skill set of the ambulance team was not defined, the level of staffing of the helicopter service was not stated, team composition varied without reporting outcomes for each team type, patient outcome data were not reported, or the majority of the transports were interhospital rather than prehospital transports.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Ambulances*
  • Allied Health Personnel / organization & administration
  • Allied Health Personnel / statistics & numerical data
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration
  • Patient Care Team / statistics & numerical data
  • Personnel Staffing and Scheduling / organization & administration
  • Personnel Staffing and Scheduling / statistics & numerical data*
  • Physician's Role*
  • Survival Analysis
  • Workforce
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy*